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DARKNESS WAITS (2019)

aka IT’S HAPPENING AGAIN
Directed by Libby McDermott
Written by John Taylor
Starring Scott Schiaffo, Conrad Brooks, Mel Heflin, Emily Whitcomb, Jenny Jannetty, Libby McDermott, David Lee Madison, Jim Krut, Charles Dawson, Todd Chamberlain, Jeffery L. Miner, Waylon Smith, Matthew Leslie, Troy Smith, Taellor Kollman, Fat Pat, Antony Sanders, Jimmy McDermott, Bex Etter, Matt Stahley, Jeffrey Scott Leinbach, Debra S. Rager, David Mackley, Mallory Augustine, James Haugh, Melanie Leigh, Kristina Kollman, Eric Hurd, Kellen Williams, Bonnie Kauffman, Jade Minnick, Dan Miller, Robert A. Gossert, Kevin Yost, Jon Kettoman as the Killer, & Hammer Rager the Wolf!
Find out more about this film here!!

Here are a few surefire indications that you’re about to watch a low budget horror film. Some might say it’s obvious from the way the film is lit, the way it sounds, and the overall look of the film. Others take one look at the cast and can point out a low budgeter a mile away. For me, though, I’ll take a step back and say that the biggest indicator you’ve got a low budget film on your hands is simply look at the IMDB page and if the cast is enormous, filled with characters who have both first and last names as characters, and filled with actors without photos, there’s a pretty strong chance you’ve got yourself a low to no budgeter on your hands. For me, this is a charming quality as it is quite obvious these films are made with family and friends in roles—non-actors who may not have the same passion for the craft of making movies, but want to support the low budget filmmaker. But once in the role, they get into it, they develop their own backstories, and even wish to flesh the characters out with a full name and origin even though it doesn’t matter to the story or isn’t even mentioned in the film. Having to list the actors in my reviews, it never fails to make me smile when I see the infinite cast roll call when researching these films before reviewing (though I must admit it is a chore to cut and paste them all).

DARKNESS WAITS tells the tale of an urban legend of sorts about a mad man who lives in the uncharted woods who kills anyone who enters his forest. A group of college kids get wind of the story and want to do a school project on it. So they load up their recording equipment and set out to film a movie in the woods. Not wanting to waste the entire weekend on the project, one of the kids decides to have his buddy dress as the killer to scare the group and have them leave early. What none of them know is that the real killer is lurking out there. Meanwhile, a doughy deputy is assigned to be sheriff as the previous sheriff has been let go due to unprofessional behavior. The sheriff is trying to get used to the new gig when a wolf is caught, bodies are found, and word that the killer is loose in the woods proves to be the true test as to whether he is up for the job of sheriff or not.

DARKNESS WAITS is one of those films I described in the first paragraph. It is a modest film, but seems to be enormous aspirations in terms of the story it wants to tell. It’s a story that involves subplots, twists, turns, flashbacks, and all sorts of narrative complexity, despite the fact that most of the cast showed up for free beer and pizza. I can appreciate the big budget aspirations, but unfortunately, the expansive plot and the huge cast take away from what is otherwise an intriguing little story. Filmmakers Libby McDermott and John Taylor seem dedicated to tell their story no matter how low fi it looks and sounds and good on them for doing that. But I think the complexity of the storytelling and the large cast serve as distractions rather than interesting additions to the story of DARKNESS WAITS.

Being a fan of no-budget films, I was entertained by the risks the filmmakers took. Most low budgeters tell a pretty direct plot and rarely take the narrative gymnastics that DARKNESS WAITS dares do. I really feel with a bigger budget and some more experience, the filmmakers could make something truly great. The sheer amount of actors and too much time dedicated to subplots, accompanied with the lack of a strong edit is going to make this one a tough see for some. Still, I found the slasher aspects to be very well done. I loved the handheld intro and kind of wish the whole film was shot in this way. All in all, there is a lot to like about DARKNESS WAITS. There are random characters and subplots that distract rather than enhance, but there is enough low fi slasher stuff that will keep indie cinema-philes entertained.

Click here for the trailer!!