In this Colombian mansion house in the jungle there has been a disturbance when it was to be abandoned, and the night of the last man out was significant because he was just about to leave when he heard the telephone ringing and against his better judgement went to answer it. The man on the line told him to destroy some official documents before he went, so he agreed and set light to them when he was interrupted once more: the doorbell was sounding. Putting out the small flames, the man ventured downstairs to investigate to find there was nobody there, just the rain pouring in the darkness - until he caught a figure on an upper balcony out of the corner of his eye.
It doesn't end well for this bloke, let's just say that, but it wouldn't end all that well for you either if you opted to give Out of the Dark a try. It slotted into the overburdened haunted house genre neatly enough, but struggled to distinguish itself, just your run of the mill family in peril from the spooks yarn and there was very little reason to offer it your precious time when first, it didn't make any great achievements in its parameters, and second, there must be millions of these stories now, and the fact this hailed from Central America was not enough to make it essential viewing when it stuck to the clichés that the efforts from North America were using.
A tell tale sign this was not going to be notable enough no matter where its place of origin was that the headlining stars were not Central American at all, never mind Colombian, as Americans Julia Stiles and Scott Speedman as married couple Sarah and Paul Harriman were drafted into take the leads, and Irishman Stephen Rea with an American accent was Sarah's father, though the young daughter Hannah was played by the British actress Pixie Davies who distractingly sported an English accent. This was explained away by telling us the Harrimans spend her early years in London, but was an example of the mix and match approach to casting internationally that didn't feel authentic.
Director Lluís Quílez wanted his film to tell the scary story, but also to be beefed up with a social conscience, the trouble with that being he might as well have made his setting the Indian burial ground from Poltergeist seeing as how much resonance it had within the overall effect. He certainly seemed to like the little girl, who was presented in glutinously sentimental terms, with treacly music from Fernando Velázquez ever present on the soundtrack to mark the moppet's every move, all the better to have the audience melt accordingly and feel anxious when she was placed in peril. Yet it was so uninspired that you never felt as if Hannah was ever going to be actually bumped off.
Probably a good thing - who would want to see that? - but as far as suspense went Out of the Dark was a dud, as vague and generic as its title. It might not have been entirely the fault of the filmmakers, as their concerns were with exploited kids which at least spoke to their hearts in the right place, but we had seen so many of these that there were zero surprises, not even in the by now deadening jump scares the director punctuated the action with. With half of Stiles' dialogue consisting of wearisome variations on "Hannah! Where are you?! What have you done with my daughter?!" this wasn't great to listen to, and too often it was so dark it wasn't too spiffing to watch either. With the villains apparently a bunch of ghost children (take your pick of two sets of candidates to blame), then after that revealed to be the far less adventurous (though possibly more accurate) corporate negligence, you might get some enjoyment here if this was your first horror movie ever, but even so the hackneyed dramatics here would likely be familiar anyway.
[Entertainment One's DVD has a making of featurette as its sole extra.]