The Dark Hours (2005) / Thriller-Horror

MPAA Rated: R for strong violence, gore, language and sexual content
Running Time: 76 min.

Cast: Kate Greenhouse, Aidan Devine, Gordon Currie, Iris Graham, Dov Tiefenbach
Director: Paul Fox
Screenplay: Wil Zmak
Review published January 3, 2006

Dr. Samantha Goodman (Greenhouse, Roswell: The Aliens Attack) is a psychiatrist that regularly evaluates the mental state of the criminally insane patients.  Samantha is also suffering from a brain tumor that is growing in her head, and she has also begun having strange side effects that cause her to zone out on occasion.  She travels with her husband (Currie, waydowntown) and sister (Graham, "Alienated") out to a cottage out in the snowy country, where she plans to tell them about the fact that she is, in most likelihood, going to die soon.  However, things take a strange turn for the worse when visitors appear at their home, one of them a patient (Devine, Trucks) she has had a bad history with, and he wants to play mind games with her and her family akin to the psychological testing he underwent on a continuous basis under her "care".

Cape Fear meets Panic Room meets High Tension in The Dark Hours, a low-budget Canadian production that, while derivative in plot and trickery to many other films of late, excels in still delivering the tension and jolts requires to keep you on edge.  It certainly isn't for the squeamish, as the tension level does escalate rapidly as the film progresses, which may be too dark and grisly for viewers that aren't looking for such fare.  It's positively sadistic at times, but not always gratuitous, as most of the worst moments are (thankfully) kept off screen, although that also does make it seem all the more disturbing indeed.

First-time feature director Paul Fox does a good job keeping this economical, never lingering too long before introducing a new twist.  The actors are solid, even if they aren't exactly household names, but all perform their assigned roles well.  Wil Zmak's script (also first-time) is full of quite a few interesting developments, although viewers will most likely be split as to how much they enjoy the story once it takes a sidestep into the Twilight Zone.  Personally, the developments are interesting, although so overdone in this day and age, it's hard not to groan just a little.

The Dark Hours will please lovers of macabre suspense vehicles, as it is quite intense once it gets going, and uneasy in most other spots. Those that usually look away when scary parts emerge might find it a little too much to bear, While not really a powerhouse in terms of production, this little b-movie delivers when it counts -- for the morally twisted.

Qwipster's rating:

2006 Vince Leo