Deep in the Darkness (2014): Goosebumps for Grownups Sort Of

Sean Patrick Harris in Deep in the Darkness
Deep in the Darkness, a 2014 film directed by Colin Theys (Dark Souls, Remains) has the feel of an R.L. Stine Goosebumps for grownups; a sort of adult version of the beloved scary stories for kids. It stars Sean Patrick Harris (Cruel Intentions, Save the Last Dance) as a doctor who moves to a small town in New Hampshire to get away from the big city and where he plans to expand his nuclear family.

Dean Stockwell plays his neighbor, Phil Deighton whose wife Rosie is “dying of cancer” and it is Phil’s job to welcome the new doctor and show him the ropes. The doctor soon learns that this quaint little burg has more to offer than an eight o’clock p.m. curfew, there are things that live in the woods and they rule the town.

In a lot of ways the ending of this little horror film is signposted from the very start. It does feel a little like the classic Goosebumps episode where the family move to a small town only to learn that they are the only people in it. Just as in that segment of the kid’s series, the protagonists of this film find that the entire town is against them. Goosebumps’ Welcome to the Dead House (Part 1 & 2) is probably about as scary as Deep in the Darkness and certainly leaves the viewer feeling very uneasy long after it finishes…Even adult viewers.

Deep in the Darkness is based on the Michael Laimo novel of the same name and Laimo also wrote the book Dead Souls, that was made into a 2012 film that was also directed by Theys. Dead Souls is another film that tries hard and has a good concept but fails overall to convince.

It has to be said that the best thing about Deep in the Darkness is Dean Stockwell; who proves that old child stars never lose their chops. Stockwell began working in the business as a baby and the 79 year-old actor still blows everyone else off the screen with ease.

Sean Patrick Harris does do a solid job as the man who opts to fight the dreadlocked creatures in the wood. Sadly, there are too many moments that require too much in the area of suspension of disbelief to allow the film to work. Kristen Bush who plays his wife Cristine was a brilliant casting choice as the two do have chemistry in the limited time they are allowed to have it.

The biggest disappointment is the young actor chosen to play their daughter. Cute enough to look at but Theys apparently could not connect with the youngster to get a good performance out of her. Wooden and unconvincing the child has only this credit and one can only hope that if she does work again it is for another director.

There are some suitably creepy moments, a couple of dream sequences, a goat in the shed, a woman who dies after trying to seduce Harris’s character in the local church and even the Isolates themselves are bit disturbing. Sadly the entire film fails to gel.

The plot is interesting enough but flags in the middle, as does the film, and moves at a snail’s pace to its conclusion. Watching this movie on Netflix it took maximum willpower not to fast forward past the dull bits. The score for the film is jarring and does not fit, it could well be that this is the death blow to the movie overall. The music is too much. Deep in the Darkness would have benefitted from a more subtle soundtrack without the crashingly loud movements meant to convey a scare or mood.

At the beginning of the film, Theys opts for very little mood music giving the viewer hope that this will be a hidden gem of a movie. Sadly, the music soon intrudes and along with its other problems the film sinks. Harris is given an arc that makes no real sense for his character. The same can be said for Kristen Bush’s Cristine; a loving wife in the beginning, halfway through she falls pregnant and turns into a sort of Stepford wife who then decides, on a whim it seems, to listen to hubby and escape from the town.

Deep in the Darkness could have been a brilliantly scary film but all the ingredients were mixed badly by the director and the end result is a disappointing mess. Steaming on Netflix at the moment, it may be worth watching just for Dean Stockwell but when his character departs one can safely turn it off and not miss a lot. Goosebumps is also streaming on Netflix…Watch the two part episode titled Welcome to the Dead House it really is better.

A 2.5 stars out of 5 for Deep in the Darkness and a deep sigh of disappointment…some of those dream sequences were truly disturbing.