RELEASED: 2005, Cert. 18
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 94 mins
DIRECTOR: Andrew Goth
PRODUCER/SCREENPLAY: Joanne Reay
MUSIC: Richard Fox & Lauren Yason
Luke Goss as Det. John Dark
Kevin Howarth as Mortimer Shade
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Det. John Dark and his new partner, Mortimer Shade, are sent to sort something out at an apparently abandoned shipping yard.
As Det. Dark and Mortimer Shade strike up an unusual rapport with one another, lots of strange killings occur, and as far as I could make out, Det. Dark discovers something out of the ordinary about Mortimer Shade.
I'm unable to elaborate more clearly as to what this film is all about, simply because I didn't understand any of it.
I was sincerely hoping that Cold And Dark might be a film I'd enjoy, firstly because I was drawn to the title, and secondly because one of the main characters is Kevin Howarth, whose acting abilities I usually admire.
Right from the start, I simply wasn't 'grabbed', feeling totally detached from everything that was happening on the screen.
As the film progressed, I tried so very hard to make head or tail of what was going on, but found myself sinking deeper into some unfathomable depths of total confusion.
Some of the script is presented in narrative format by Luke Goss as Det. John Dark, with the remainder being dialogue, but I found it very difficult to understand what Kevin Howarth (as Mortimer Shade) was saying for much of the time. Also, I was totally unable to understand why the detectives were occupying a disused shipyard, so attempted to concentrate very hard, but no finger leapt out of the screen to stimulate the part of my brain which governs comprehension.
Cold And Dark has quite a lot of subsidiary characters, none of whom I could see the point of, why they were there, and what their significance was to a storyline which baffled me senseless. At various points, the film makes use of special effects and although a few of them are fairly clever, they didn't supersede with brilliance anything that I've seen before.
There is a fair bit of violence in Cold And Dark, which came across to me as being of a sensationalist nature, rather than adding anything positive or powerful - something which made me wonder if such scenes were included in order to jog a film along which flags badly from crashing tedium. Also, there are points where the storyline attempts to deliver a surreal atmosphere, but it simply doesn't work, not just because it isn't well done, but it goes far too off the wall which only serves to fudge what is going on even more.
The characters in Cold And Dark didn't inspire me at all, as I found them to be weak, insubstantial and devoid of any kind of warmth or humanity. It isn't easy for me to judge the quality of the acting, due to my below zero levels of understanding of what the hell was supposed to be happening.
As anyone who reads this review can no doubt guess, I hated Cold And Dark....but, there were two things about the film which were rather good, although not good enough to make me hike up my star rating. The first piece of good was the music. For the most part, the score was avant-garde experimentation with orchestral sounds, but here and there other little snatches peep through, the most notable for me being a delicious - albeit very short - piece of raw blues harmonica. The other piece of good was at about the two-thirds through point, one of the characters spoke a few lines which did raise a smile, and appealed to my sometimes strange sense of humour.
Overall though, I really don't know from where I summoned the fortitude to continue watching Cold And Dark, as it had little or nothing to offer me in the slightest. When the closing credits rolled, all I could think of was that my brain had become addled from a seriously concerted effort to follow and understand what quite possibly is one of the most baffling and boring films I've ever seen.
For my finale, the only words which come to my mind are..... what in the name of the creeping prophets was this load of nonsense all about?
At the time of writing, Cold And Dark can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: from £1.98 to £10.33
Used: from £1.09 to £1.95
A delivery charge of £1.26 should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
When detective John Dark is partnered with another maverick detective named Mortimer Shade, his initial unease is quickly settled when he finds his new colleague easier to work with than he had expected. Attending a deserted shipping yard together, the men are forced to separate and Dark eventually finds Shade covered in blood, apparently killed for reasons unknown like the other unfortunate people inside a refrigeration unit. When Shade makes an apparent recovery, Dark believes his new friend to be very lucky and continues to work alongside Shade in bringing down the local villains. But when the local villains start to fall victim to a bloodthirsty killer, internal affairs are not the only ones who believe that there is now more to Detective Shade than meets the eye....
It's hard to believe that twenty years ago, Luke Goss was part of Bros, one of the biggest boy bands in the UK. Since then he has spent the best part of the last decade trying to establish himself with a Hollywood career, notably appearing in one or two blockbusters (Hellboy 2, Blade 2), but generally settling otherwise for TV movies and films that end up going straight to DVD. Released in 2005, Cold and Dark is a moderately quirky British horror thriller that, in the hands of a more skilled creative team, could have been very good, but ends up feeling like a rather bloodthirsty episode of Taggart, mixed up with a Little Britain sketch.
Cold and Dark (do you see what they did there?) can never really decide what it wants to be. Murder mystery, crime thriller, supernatural creature feature; you name it, this film could pretty much slide itself into the genre. The tale, it transpires, is about a mythical supernatural creature that attaches itself to a host human being (usually dead) and then re-animates said human being with some rather ghastly monster powers. Specifically, this is initially unknown to both cast and audience alike, until Shade demonstrates his new capabilities to his partner Dark, with the rest of the film spent showing how Dark handles the knowledge that his police partner is now a killing machine (and dead, of course.) This could/should make for some darkly comical moments and occasionally it does (Shade's observations about how you still get nicotine cravings after death is quite wittily done) but otherwise it takes itself far too seriously.
This never really benefits the plot, which, although superficially simple, somehow manages to become rather convoluted, largely as a result of an unnecessarily large number of supporting cast members. The sudden deaths of so many of the local criminals prompt an internal investigation by the police and the arrival of the ubiquitous love interest for detective Dark, leading to a conflict of interests on both sides. There are handfuls of bad guys, all connected in one way or another, all loosely introduced via a sketchy narration from Dark, but it's never quite clear who did what to who and why and after a while the audience simply has to accept that the bad guys are bad. A more carefully constructed set of characters would have made a more interesting tale, and given more credence to the subsequent bloodshed, but in reality it's all a bit numbing and it's certainly very difficult to care about anything that happens, even when a little boy becomes involved. It's quite edgy stuff though, with a particularly gruesome murder that takes place amidst some dubious "action" in a public toilet and there's frequently blood everywhere. However, whilst the film definitely merits the 18-certificate, the quality of the special effects is rather limited and the blood and guts are poured in such quantities that you can't help thinking that some restraint would have worked a bit better.
For some reason, in spite of the lead's D-list status, Cold and Dark feels gratuitously like a showcase for Luke Goss. Few opportunities are wasted for a close up on his (perilously) blue eyes, perfectly formed teeth or (frustratingly) buff body, and there is nothing natural about his character. As the actor sails through one cool scene after another (despite his lowly police status, he seems to live in a multi-miilion pound beach side house) you soon find yourself expecting to smile knowingly at the camera and wink at you. Too cool for his own good, Goss never really grasps the art of being an interesting cop and you do wonder why so much interest in such an uninteresting person. Sadly for him, his partner (the enigmatic Kevin Howarth on fine form) is much more interesting to watch, partly because of his naturally dark and brooding appearance, and partly because of the fact he's not so pretty. The bad guys are generally more interesting than Goss also, but are generally dispatched with such rapid ferocity that it's impossible to get to know any of them. The police superintendent Maddox (David Gant) is a bit of a character; actually he's completely mad, with a hysterically good scene where he lectures Dark about golf. The most curious appearance, however, comes from comedian Matt Lucas, who outshines the lot of them as an eccentric investigator, hot on the trail of the creature that has taken over detective Shade. Resplendent in rain mac and tweeds, Lucas adds a much-needed sense of humour to a production that otherwise has delusions of grandeur.
Filmed entirely on location in Cornwall, in spite of its gruesome nature, the film looks quite nice, in a bleak kind of way. The director makes use of the landscape, both natural and artificial and there's a morbid tone to the piece that sticks from the beginning to the end. The atmosphere is never fully realised though; you can't help expecting more that you never quite get, with a relatively unsatisfying and slightly predictable conclusion. Cold and Dark is a bit of an investment that never quite pays off; as the final titles roll, the audience is likely to want a refund on the last ninety minutes of their lives.
The region 2 DVD of Cold and Dark retails for around £6 on www.amazon.co.uk but I'd wait for it to be shown for free on television rather than waste your cash.