DARK OF WINTER | INDIE FILM REVIEW
by Sarah Duncan
Dark of Winter is the second feature film from award winning writer and director David C. Snyder. It follows professional assassin John French (Kyle Jason) as he faces the dual trials of a complicated job and the troubled memories of his daughter's death ten years prior.
Interestingly, the film was shot as part of a 'two week challenge' to create something that resembled a final draft with all the editing and tinkering that involves – an impressive feat considering the variation of sets used throughout.
In the midst of his latest mission, French's past comes crashing to the forefront when his daughter's childhood friend Sarah (Erica Paisley) arrives on the scene. This, coupled with the fact that the man involved with what happened to his daughter tens year before has recently been paroled, makes for a very distracted hired gun. It is at this point of the film that things start getting a little weird.
I've always been a firm advocate of a film not handing the plot to the audience on a plate – Dark of Winter however, has made me eat my words. From the arrival of Sarah on the scene, I felt the film wandered off somewhat and try as I did to follow the writer's line of thought, there was no hint of a breadcrumb plot trail – which is a shame.
Snyder has initially set up an interesting, engaging plot and character portrayal only to leave the viewer with puzzling scraps to piece together – maybe this was the intention. Maybe I'm just hard to please. Regardless of which, I felt a bit like Guy Pearce's memory-challenged character in Memento (2000). I'm all for a film that keeps you guessing – I only ask to be brought along for the ride as opposed to running alongside the car trying to get in.
Despite this, I found Dark of Winter an intriguing watch that reveals a capable hand when it comes to the psychological horror genre. The film's score is barely present throughout and almost unnoticeable until used for maximum effect during the few 'jumpy' scenes – a clever idea that ties in with the eerie series of events unfolding as the film progresses.
As a two week endeavour the film is a remarkable achievement. I can't help but feel that a little more time to shoot Dark of Winter would have resulted in a final product that was well-rounded in its entirety. There is a thrown-together quality about the film that I just couldn't shake.
I look forward to seeing what else David C. Snyder has to offer in future and am sure Dark of Winter was an enjoyable addition to the ICON Sci-Fi Convention in New York where it was screened this past weekend.
Dark of Winter Trailer by hwic22