La Hora fria (The Dark Hour)
I really enjoyed this film, one which was much more science fiction than some of the in your face horror that we'd seen at Dead by Dawn this year, here the horror was much more psychological.
The film shows us a small group of people living underground or in some complex, and the rest of the story is opened up in slow reveals. As the characters encounter something we learn about it.
I much prefer this style of story telling rather than placed expositional scenes. It makes you feel more connected with the characters and the story builds far more naturally than it would with characters explaining everything to you, almost lecturing the screen.
However in order for me to convince you to go and see it, I have to tell you a little bit about it.
They are survivors of some catastrophic event. It seems that most of the other humans have been wiped out and they are trapped and isolated in this complex.
Around them there are other creatures, humans who have become infected. They continually close in around them and have to be fought back. Meanwhile, at night, there's another mysterious creature that appears and threatens their safe haven.
That's about all I want to say for fear that I spoil some of the film for you. Believe me though, La Hora fria is an excellent film that has plenty more in store for you.
From the opening shot the cinematic style utilitses the cramped, enclosed environment to give a much bigger scope, an effect reminiscent of such films as Terminator and Alien, and here it feels natural and is used to great effect.
Another aspect of the film that gives it a feature feel is the production design. The set dressing and costume design manages to not date the the story at all, and so we feel that this is set in a very real near future, and it never feels out of place or overly futuristic either.
It is superbly shot with a claustrophobic and dark feel to the film. The use of darkness and the unseen is extremely effective. Instead of continually being shown the enemy we'll see them at a distance, in darkness, and a great use of sound and expectation.
There's a lot of focus on the characters and how they are affected by their situation and each other, and this is the backbone of the film. Not only does it set up some great relationships, but it also defines some conflicts that pay off later in the film.
The actors perform really well, especially the children who seem very real and natural in their roles. The adults provide a range of characters and performances. With the film being so tightly confined, the characters are the most important part of the story, and they bring a believability to it through the strong script and acting.
Talking of the script, it's a really well written one, not just the idea, but the entire story. So often with this genre you find that the idea is strong and/or epic but the rest of the film can't carry it off, not here though, La Hora fria takes the strong script and carries it right through to the screen.
However it isn't all great, when the story really gets into the final act the pace and action builds up, but it is here that the story seems to falter slightly.
In the final act there are some strange decisions from the characters, decisions that force radical story changes which are quite hard to follow for the audience.
With this faster pace and story changes we find that there are quite a few plotlines that are uncovered which are left open and unexplored. These stand out and left me hanging during key scenes, and yet the story leapt forward with me wondering what had happened.
The ultimate ending though is a great surprise and a strong plot reveal which is extremely satisfying, however I did feel slightly abandoned as the story ideas and the relationships explored were so deep and promising, and many remained unexplored.
I thought there was so much there that we didn't get a chance to get into, and yet that was also one of the strengths, that there wasn't a need to overexplain everything, things just were.
Overall a very strong character based, science fiction, thriller, zombie horror, survivalist, and any other relevant genre you can think to assign. It's a visually strong film with great concepts, direction and writing. I just wish we had more time in this story and explored some of those threads left hanging in the final act.