Filmmaker Andrew P. Jones has kept busy in recent years serving as one of the editors on hit reality series “Naked and Afraid,” though he has a long history of horror films on his resume before this accomplishment – working as a production supervisor on Killer Tomatoes Eat France (1992), as a first assistant director on Slaughterhouse (1987), and as the master and commander of 2014’s Haunting of Cellblock 11. It appears that Andrew P. Jones loves making paranormal movies, considering Haunting of Cellblock 11 and his new feature, Darkness Reigns, both focus around ghost attacks. I was nervous that Jones was writing himself off as a one trick pony, but in this case the pony in this race is miles ahead. If you’ve seen Andrew’s previous feature, let me be the first to assure you that Darkness Reigns is much, much better! It was invigorating for me, as a reviewer, to see that his talents behind-the-camera have improved in four years, and, honestly, Darkness Reigns is probably one of the best independent horror films to come out so far this year. Wild Eye Releasing is sending it to most VOD outlets on July 10, 2018 and here’s why you should considering streaming or downloading this exciting title.
Darkness Reigns follows a group of filmmakers shooting a horror movie in a hotel that’s rumored to be haunted. As the production is well underway, the cast and crew of the movie find themselves in the grips of a demonic force that can possess them at any moment. Chills and thrills come at the survivors from all angles as they try to escape the hotel, or risk becoming another urban legend its walls will keep. Written, directed, produced and edited by Andrew P. Jones, Darkness Reigns stars Casper Van Dien (Sleepy Hollow, Starship Troopers), Jennifer Wenger (“Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Tales of Halloween), Zachary Mooren, Peter Mayer, Ford Fanter and Linara Washington. The last movie I saw Casper Van Dien in was Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf, but the dude literally hasn’t aged a day since Starship Troopers. More-so, I was more impressed with his acting here than ever before, as he played a more uptight, boisterous version of himself. In terms of favorite character, though, that’s going to Linara Washington as Vanessa. Just a really well rounded, cohesive cast that turned in fun, demented and realistic performances.
What starts as a simple plot gradually turns into something much bigger. Andrew P. Jones and producers Linara Washington, Mark Reichard, Mike Strain and Adam Boster had their hands full as they booked grand location after grand location. A movie theater filled with extras, an entire hotel with multiple floors and camera crews bustling about. The room for error and cheese-factor was sky high, especially when looking at Darkness Reigns as a marginally independent production, but the crew here pulled this one out of the bag. Absolutely nailed it and used every opportunity to its full advantage. That’s what making a movie on a budget is all about, folks. The camera work from cinematographer Warren Yeager was on point and crystal clear, another integral part of making a movie successful that fell right into place. Darkness Reigns is half traditional narrative and half found footage, as the latter material was shot with the intention of being special features on the fictional movie’s home media release. I’m not normally a fan of found footage, but I liked how it was handled in this scenario.
When it comes to examining the horror in Darkness Reigns, I have to say it was measured well and completely traditional. The viewer gets the foreshadowing of madness in the very beginning followed by the build up of suspense. There are little blips of ghostly activity to keep the viewer’s attention until the “shit hits the fan” middle mark and then it’s balls to the walls action and fright from there. What’s great about Darkness Reigns is the initial demonic exposure is such a large group, there was really a million different places Andrew P. Jones could have gone wit the script. It’s nothing new, nothing we haven’t seen before, but it was effective and crafted well. Hell, I’d even go as far as to say several key moments in the movie closely resembled the world established by Silent Hill. Anything that mirrors Silent Hill territory can’t be bad! A fun, ghastly, bizarre misadventure, Darkness Reigns hits VOD on July 10, 2018 courtesy of Wild Eye Releasing. Check it out for sure!
Final Score: 7.5 out of 10