Some remakes are obvious. We know "why" you'd remake King Kong every 20 years. Others make perfect sense in a "name brand" sort of way, which explains why you're not all that surprised when someone does a remake of Halloween or Friday the 13th ... or even flicks with slightly bankable titles like Sorority Row or Mother's Day. But every once in a while there comes a horror remake that truly boggles the mind. As in: I simply cannot imagine who'd want to dust off the British not-bad-but-whatever 1970 Robert Fuest thriller And Soon the Darkness. It's not like it's some sort of Hammer (or even Amicus) mini-classic; it's just another so-so potboiler about a girl who goes missing during a vacation and her friend who goes wandering around looking for her. Also the local police are not friendly. Hint hint.
One can only guess that a young producer realized he owned the rights to the film, and then simply decided to remake the thing. There's simply no other reason. The remake, to its visual credit, stars Amber Heard and Odette Yustman as a pair of truly stupid young women who bicycle into a grungy Argentinian town, behave like giggling bubbleheads, miss a bus, lay on a beach, have a fight, and separate tempestuously. (It's at this point I'd note that Ms. Heard or Ms. Yustman would be enough "sexy" for one half-baked thriller remake, but And Soon the Darkness boasts both babes. It's what we call a curvy silver lining.) Then one of the gals goes missing, the other one sniffs around aimlessly, and then Karl Urban pops up to deliver assistance to both our heroine and the audience by delivering muscles to the former and a chunk of exposition to the latter. It's all about as fun as it sounds.
First-time director Marcos Efron does a fine job of framing the unpleasant (and then intimidating) Argentinian forests and its few untrustworthy citizens, but the abduction stuff happens way too late to generate any sustained tension, and most of the characters are too unintelligent (or illogical) to generate much empathy. The result is a generic and dreary chase you've seen before, only this time the forest is a little more lush and the lead shriekers are a whole lot prettier.
Sort of like a film noir presented by Ms. Teen USA, the flick meanders around its threadbare and helplessly familiar plot as if it's waiting for a truck loaded with plot twists to pull up. Both Heard and Yustman have no problem portraying young women both confused and victimized, while Urban just pops up every 19 minutes like he's a guest star on CSI: Argentina. Based as it is on a 1970 flick, And Soon the Darkness is also a decidedly PG-13 affair -- aside from the pointless and entirely incongruous torture scene that's wedged into the film to no doubt make for a juicier trailer. Despite a game (and very photogenic) cast, this unrequested remake of an unremembered film is a thoroughly uneventful affair.
Pretty leads, pretty camera work, and pretty darn boring.