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Review: Jozsef Gallai’s “Spirits in the Dark”

If I was walking alone through an abandoned building and discovered blood stains on the walls and a rubber mask stuck to it, I’d be out of there and down the street before my camera could focus on the horror. Apparently, that’s not enough to spook the main character, Gil, in Spirits in the Dark. Because he sticks around long enough for night to fall around him, and it becomes obvious that the mysterious video sent to his computer, the one that lead him to the building, was a trap to force an encounter with an ominous entity. A collaboration between HepiFilms, Elekes Pictures, Lazy Cat Films and Gloomy Sunday Productions, Spirits in the Dark successfully meshes the world of narrative film with the instant fad of found footage features, all while containing a Hungarian and European flair that’s quite enviable. Written and directed by Jozsef Gallai, Spirits in the Dark stars Gallai, Agota Dunai, Peter Cosgrove, Beata Boldog, Zsofia Gallai, Gergo Elekes and Shawn Michael Clankie. This title is releasing in early 2020 courtesy of Wild Eye Releasing, and here’s why you should keep an eye out for it in the coming months!

Gil is a grieving widower who used to explore abandoned (and maybe haunted) buildings with his late wife. He hasn’t pursued the passion since losing his love, but an unfamiliar email changes that and sends him into a psychological game of cat and mouse with a force from beyond the grave. It’s a very simple plot in a very simple setting, but Spirits in the Dark is incredibly suspenseful and possessive for two reasons. First, director Jozsef Gallai was able to set this up as a visual masterpiece, due to the locations used in the movie and his crew behind-the-camera. Spirits in the Dark capitalizes on the beautiful landscapes of Hungary and all the breathtaking wilderness it has to offer. Then, during the major movie moments, Spirits in the Dark becomes a competitor for “best cinematography” at any film festival thanks to the work by Gallai and cinematographer/editor Gergo Elekes. The quality of production is not lost on the fact that this film jumps between narrative film and found footage style.

People have gone missing from the abandoned building before, which stirs an eerie feeling throughout the movie, sparked by one Hell of a hook opening sequence. The second reason that Spirits in the Dark is such a winning release is because the mood and atmosphere in this film is so, so palpable. You could literally cut it with a knife. It takes a lot of effort to make your film have a mood that’s experienced by all of your senses from in front of a screen, and Spirits in the Dark does that quite effectively. Spirits in the Dark feels like a mix of The Blair Witch Project and video game Until Dawn, or Paranormal Activity and video game Resident Evil. It’s an awesome experience as a viewer, and a style that I haven’t seen in film-making before. Props for originality and true marksmanship. My only complaint with Spirits in the Dark is that it’s short on time and low in true horror. Of course, the short run time could have been fueled by more spine-tingling, terrifying moments, but what’s done is done. This movie is coming out via Wild Eye Releasing and I’d recommend it as something to watch a lonely, rainy night.

A suspenseful, slow-burning nightmare grows as the bricks fall in Spirits in the Dark; one of the most visually pleasing found footage features I’ve seen in a while. Final Score: 7 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)