And Soon the Darkness is the kind of film that send chills down the spines of parents waving their children off to foreign locales.
Two travelers, buoyed by that feeling of youthful invincibility think bad things will never happen to them. But here we have two educated, savvy, and experienced friends who find themselves trapped in a sinister situation in rural Argentina.
The original 1970 British film found two girlfriends lost in Europe, where help is never far away. It’s a whole new ballgame in Marcos Efron’s chilling remake, starring Amber Heard and Odette Yustman.
Monsters and Critics spoke with Efron about re-imagining peril.
M&C – Marcus you directed the film but you also wrote the adaptation of the original UK/French thriller. What tweaks did you make? How does it reflect a new time and place? Are the girls different?
ME – My aim was to keep the movie firmly rooted as an atmospheric suspense film rather than a slasher, a direction I felt worked very effectively in the original. It didn’t rely on gimmicks or gore to tell the story. But I also realized the movie would be for an audience savvier than those in 1970, so adding new characters and plot twists was important.
We chose rural Argentina because I didn’t think it was believable that anyone could get lost in a Western European country like France today. Argentina is remote and in some parts you really feel like you’re the only one around.
Throw in the language barrier and you can see why a story like this can be scary. The characterizations of the girls are actually quite similar to those in the original.
M&C -And Soon the Darkness is a horror thriller, and yet, almost all of it takes place in daylight – that’s quite the departure.
ME – I think there is a huge amount of suspense and fear that can be explored during the day. Just look at “Sporloos,” that great Dutch film that was remade as “The Vanishing.” Or Polansky’s “Knife in the Water.” Creepy.
M&C: Kidnappings for trafficking are allegedly common in parts of South America, why?
I think kidnappings are unfortunately always going to be a problem in economically depressed countries. That’s not to say Argentina is like that, it’s not really, but when you get up into the backwoods and border regions anywhere, then all bets are off.
M&C – Were Argentinean officials concerned about the film’s content?
ME -They weren’t because they understood the movie’s villains were characters who would be corrupt no matter what their nationality. To be honest, I don’t recall us ever needing or seeking their approval.
M&C – The idea of being in a foreign country in trouble is a nightmare.
ME – Yes, because I’ve done a lot of traveling overseas and I love going off on my own, but I’m a 6-foot tall, ex-football player so I can handle myself. Two young women alone is a different story altogether.
The other thing I thought a lot about was my mom and her sister traveling through South America on their own in the late 60s and early 70s. If they hadn’t been, I wouldn’t be here because my mom met my dad in Buenos Aires!
M&C – Argentina is just that far away and exotic to us, and has that Nazi taint; the perfect spot to get horrifically lost. It seems naïve for the girls to split, but then there would be no movie. Were you concerned about making that plot point believable?
ME -You’re absolutely right, and it’s a plot-point that we worked on tirelessly to make seem real. What it came down to was the rift between Stephanie and Ellie, and could Ellie really hit a nerve so much so that Stephanie needed a time out from her friend.
We also have to remember they’ve been traveling for weeks together and probably never once split up. What I think also tempers it is that it’s in the middle of the day and the surroundings are gorgeous and peril is the last thought on their minds.
M&C -Amber Heard stars and produced the film. What drew her to it? I admire her a lot – she is really intelligent and committed to do her best. How was she as a partner?
ME -Amber was such a fantastic partner. She was the first actor to come aboard the project and we immediately got to work on the script to make the character more her own.
She is scary smart and that made working with her a blessing, but also a challenge because that meant I had to be on my ‘A’ game all the time!
And Soon the Darkness is in theaters now and will be available on DVD and Blu-ray on December 28th. Visit the DVD database for more information.Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.