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DVD Review: Dark Corners

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Who in the hell is Thora Birch’s agent? I’d like to meet the person who thought it was a good idea for the star of films like American Beauty and Ghost World to take a role in a C-grade psychological thriller with Lynchian aspirations but only music video vision. Birch has never been a huge star, but I have to believe her resume, which is quite substantial compared to that of her co-stars, merits better offers than the lead in bargain bin junk.

I was actually startled by the genuine incoherence of the opening sequence, which has little to do with the rest of the film. We get to see the blood and gore of a serial killer massacre, but its shock value only helps to lower the bar for a thriller without objective.

The rest of the film involves Thora Birch’s two characters dreaming. One, a Goth girl who works in a funeral home, sees demons haunting her on the streets of a city the Soviet Union misplaced. The other, a blonde suburban office worker, has nightmares of the Goth girl’s life. The horrific visions put a strain on her in-vitro fertilization attempts. There’s also the above mentioned serial killer on the loose, which blondie’s therapist suggests is causing her anxiety.

I want to believe that the simple juxtapositioning of the characters above was meant to be something substantial. In fact, I hardly blame anyone involved with the film for the way it turned out. Anyone, that is, except the producers.

Dark Corners appears to be a simple case of producer tinkering, making a more commercially viable horror film out of a thriller that could have been pretty solid. The misplaced torture elements strike me as pandering to an audience that demands their girls be dismembered and eviscerated. A grotesque abortion procedure, too, is more shocking than it is appropriate.

Horror fans may find more use for Dark Corners than a mainstream movie audience. In a world with The Hills Have Eyes and Hostel, however, it’s hard to believe horror fans would find what Dark Corners has to offer worth their time.

I still don’t believe that Dark Corners was written to be the film it becomes. That’s the only explanation I have for Birch’s association with the project. (Unless, of course, she needed money for heroin or crack.) If I’m wrong, then the film fails for another, more dire reason.

I personally like my trash to actually be trashy. Dark Corners doesn’t have the humorous bend, the subversiveness or the self-deprecation it would take to enjoy a movie as bad as this one. I hope for the sake of first-time director Ray Gower that it is a producer problem and not a writer/director problem. Otherwise, Gower will be directing the morning news in Idaho instead of making another movie.

Dark Corners is now available on DVD and features a director’s commentary track.

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About Daniel J. Stasiewski