DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

OUT OF THE DARK (AQUAS ROJAS) (director: Lluís Quílez; screenwriters: Javier Gullón/David Pastor/Alex Pastor; cinematographer: Isaac Vila; editor: Bernat Vilaplana; music: Fernando Velázquez; cast: Pixies Davies (Hannah), Julia Stiles (Sarah), Scott Speedman (Paul), Stephen Rea (Jordan Harriman), Alejandro Furth (Dr. Andres Contreras, Jr.), Vanesa Tamayo (Catalina),  Guillermo Morales Vitola (Man at Party); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Cristian Conti /Enrique López; Vertical Entertainment; 2014-USA/Colombia/Spain-in English with some Spanish)

"Derivative supernatural horror film."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The 35-year-old Lluís Quílez was born in Barcelona, Spain, and makes his directorial feature film debut with this derivative supernatural horror film, whose supernatural doings never held up to even forgivable horror pic scrutiny. The creepy revenge ghost story is too bland to give one the chills, and its pace is too plodding to build up suspense. But the acting by Julia Stiles and Stephen Rea is good enough to keep things from going bad, while the clever screenplay by Javier Gullón, David Pastor and Alex Pastor offers enough plot twists to keep the viewer alert. What the film can't do is make the supernatural masked ghost kids as interesting and exotic as the Colombian location shots of the jungle village.

It was shot in Bogota, Colombia. The visuals by cinematographer Isaac Vila are excellent, and give the film the quality look of an A film.

American mom Sarah (Julia Stiles) and British dad Paul (Scott Speedman) with their adorable attention-seeking daughter Hannah (Pixie Davies) move from London to Santa Clara, Colombia. Sarah's elderly dad Jordan (Stephen Rea) owns for the last twenty or so years the prosperous Harriman paper mill, which he built from scratch, and the plan is for the Spanish-speaking Sarah to train under him how to run the modernized manufacturing plant when he retires. Meanwhile her children's book illustrator husband Paul is to freelance at home. But he doesn't seem overjoyed by the arrangement to live in such a backward area and be a second-fiddle to wifey.

Problem is the beautiful country jungle home the couple is given by Jordan turns out to be the company's former clinic, which hides dark secrets and has been haunted ever since a 1992 incident over the knifing death of the company doctor.

When little Hannah is taken by masked ghost kids, right after exhibiting a mysterious spreading body rash, mom and dad are heart-broken and determined to rescue on their own their ailing daughter after learning how inefficient are the investigating local police.

There's a back story about a local festival held to commemorate a time five hundred years ago when the ruthless gold-seeking conquistadors kidnapped and then locked all the children of Santa Clara in a temple and burned them alive.

It's not a bad film. It sends out intelligent social issue messages. But the genre demands thrills and the thrills offered here were of the usual horror pic scare shots that didn't do much for me.

REVIEWED ON 2/14/2015       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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