COMING HOME IN THE DARK (2021) Reviews and overview

 

‘All that evil requires is for good men to do nothing’

Coming Home in the Dark is a 2021 New Zealand thriller about two drifters who terrorise a school teacher and his family on a road trip.

Directed by James Ashcroft from a screenplay co-written with Eli Kent, based on a short story by Owen Marshall, the Light in the Dark Productions movie stars Daniel Gillies, Erik Thomson, Miriama McDowell, Billy Paratene and Frankie Paratene.

Reviews:

“The big surprise here is Daniel Gillies (JJ’s son in Spider-Man 2) who delivers a haunting, wild, and uncontrollable performance. The film does stall in the second act, as it doesn’t really feel like it knows how to fill part of the run-time […] but the film thankfully brings it all home by the end. It is shot well, intense, and full of impactful violence.” Austin Burke

“At a certain point, the built-up momentum declines at a steady rate, never entirely living up to that exhilarating, brutal first act. Harsh reveals and truths don’t equate to depth, either, even if they suck the wind out of you. Still, it’s so well-acted and meticulously crafted with care that it leaves a mark anyway.” Bloody Disgusting

“Impactful, brutal, and unrelenting, Coming Home in the Dark offers a refreshed take on the material that emphasizes the need for just reconciliation. Ashcroft’s feature debut displays an ambition and skill that is full of potential and an emerging, keen vision. The film presents a past that can never be left buried, requiring its characters and audience to reckon with what they know and what they choose to forget.” Bloody Good Horror

” …becomes repetitive enough in the last third to slow the pace down, and its final moments aren’t all that satisfying. Set pieces vary enough to help keep the jaunt engaging to a degree, but not entirely. The scenes where it felt like a bare-bones thriller feel far away; they also feel like they were in a different movie.” The Film Stage

“Dark, violent, and in some moments strangely resonant, Coming Home in the Dark is a much smarter suspense thriller than we are used to that catches all of the moments just right. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, so-to-speak, but for those who love a good, violent, kidnap, road trip movie, this one is for you.” Horror Buzz

“It’s a character study that asks the viewer to decide who the real protagonist is (which is an interesting choice) but it makes for a surprisingly chaotic ending that feels like it’s looking for a purpose as desperately as the character wrapped up in this whole mess. Make no mistake though, Coming Home in the Dark is unbearably tense, brutally nerve-racking, and worth every flutter of your fight or flight response.” Nightmare on Film Street

“I genuinely enjoy when a movie doesn’t fuss around and waste time, kicking into gear within the first five minutes, pumping up adrenaline before there’s even time to settle in. Despite an ending that’s a smidge anti-climatic, Ashcroft shows great promise as a rising filmmaker and if he keeps this type of chokehold on the thriller genre, there’s no telling where he could go.” The Only Critic

By the end, Coming Home in the Dark feels like a genre exercise with some impressive bursts of filmmaking and performance that bode well for whatever Ashcroft does next, but it’s an all-night joy ride from Hell that doesn’t end up at an interesting destination.” RogerEbert.com

Coming Home in the Dark is filled with an unrelenting brutality that will give your nerves a jolt. It’s not particularly memorable, but it’s good enough to recommend for fans of the genre. If you do decide to take the plunge, buckle in and prepare your emotions for a ride to some of the bleakest places imaginable.” Screen Zealots

Coming Home in the Dark‘s tension builds so consistently that you begin to wonder if it can really keep this up until the end credits roll. The answer is no – eventually, the road trip hits a few speedbumps and slows down altogether, robbing the film of its cruel forward momentum. These concluding sections keep Coming Home in the Dark from being a complete success, but it comes damn close.” /Film

Release:

Coming Home in the Dark premiered at the Sundance festival in January 2021.

Cast and characters:

Matthias Luafutu … Tubs
Miriama McDowell … Jill
Erik Thomson … Hoaggie
Billy Paratene … Maika
Frankie Paratene … Jordan
Desray Armstrong … Traffic Patrol Officer
Alan Palmer … Paul
Daniel Gillies … Mandrake
Ike Hamon … Male Tourist
Olivia Shanks … Female Tourist
Sam Carter … Ten Year Old Boy
Bailey Cowan … Kynan
Timon Zeiss … Josh
Tioti O’Donnell … Caleb
Kaira O’Donnell … Jess

Technical details:

93 minutes

Teaser trailer:

Trailer:

Critics’ aggregated rating: