As its title suggests, Dark Country is a minimalist gloomy noir movie with a distinct nightmarish atmosphere. Who knew that Thomas Jane (Thursday, Deep Blue Sea, The Punisher) was such a good director. Granted, there are a couple of issues, mostly with storytelling and pacing but still, for a first-time director, this is really solid. First of all, the visual style is very authentic, somewhere between Twilight Zone and recent comic book adaptations.
Secondly, the production values vary from excellent to amateurish. This actually gave the movie this raw and unfiltered vibe. Now, you should also know that this movie was supposed to be a 3D movie and this is the reason behind somewhat stranger cinematography. However, it’s that moody and bleak atmosphere that makes Dark Country worth watching. You can feel that Jane and the rest of the crew dove in passionately into this project.
You can feel it be camera movement, little details meant to pull you further into the story, and all the other stuff. Most of it takes place during the night and in a car which is another plus. At least for us fans of movies about driving. Additionally, it offers those sweet, sweet Americana vibes.
Dick and Gina just got married and after spending their night in a remote little motel they set off on their journey. They plan to drive during the night across the arid Nevada desert making it just in time to kick off their honeymoon. At first, everything seems to be going according to plan despite the warnings Dick received in the motel about strange occurrences happening during the night. However, all of that is about to change.
Although Dark Country starts off quite gently and benignly, it soon transforms into something more sinister. It’s definitely not a movie for everybody as it lacks the proper pacing and engaging storytelling. And I’m sure that lack of production values and some visual effects will seem off-putting to some. The acting was pretty good with Thomas Jane giving his standard hard-boiled performance. I also loved the chemistry between him and Lauren German, you could really feel it.
With a runtime of just over eighty minutes, this is a short and sweet noir experience that fans of the genre will appreciate. With a little bit of work and support from the studios it could have been much more but what’s done is done. Finally, if you want to watch something like Dark Country I recommend you check out Dead End and perhaps Retroactive.
Director: Thomas Jane
Writer: Tab Murphy
Cast: Ron Perlman, Thomas Jane, Lauren German, Chris Browning, Con Schell, Rene Mousseux
Fun Stuff: Thomas Jane did storyboards for the entire film.