Daniel (Dan Richardson) has good reason to feel pleased with himself. Heís just returned home from a party held to celebrate the publication of his book on the occult, and his pretty blonde wife wants to celebrate his literary success by bonking his brains out. Itís little surprise then that Daniel goes to sleep with a smile on his face.
Alas, the tranquillity is short-lived when their large country cottage is stormed in the dead of night by a trio of masked thugs. They cripple Daniel, leaving him to watch helplessly as his wife is beaten to death.
Months later, Daniel is wheelchair-bound in his cottage, suffering from recurring nightmares about that fateful night. Comely nurse Fiona (Sophie Linfield) visits daily, trying to coax Daniel forward by encouraging him to finally scatter his wifeís ashes.
But Daniel cannot move forward. He just wants revenge on his unknown assailants.
A telephone call from acquaintance McMahon is well timed, then. McMahon (Lockhart Ogilvie) proved to be an indispensable source of knowledge while Daniel was writing his book, and is now ringing to commiserate his friend upon his bad fortune. Furthermore, he says he knows of someone who can help Daniel exact his vengeance.
Daniel agrees with McMahonís suggestion to send his pal round to the cottage. Enter Infurnari (Giles Alderson) a short while later. Suave, attractive, cocky: Daniel hates him initially. But it quickly becomes apparent that Infurnari, as mysterious as he may be, truly can help Daniel get even.
A strange night ensues, one which Daniel has little recollection of the following day. All he knows is that he has a taste for raw meat the morning after Ė followed by a renewed strength in his crippled legs Ö
THE HARSH LIGHT OF DAY comes to DVD from Left Films (with an extremely limited theatrical run pencilled in for early June 2012), but it certainly isnít a film youíd pigeonhole with other movies in their roster such as BONG OF THE DEAD or STAG NIGHT OF THE DEAD.
This is an altogether more sombre offering. And itís all the better for it. From the dark photography, through Jeremy Howardís mournful score, right down to the deftly handled theme of loss and unexpectedly earnest performances. Of course, such commitment would make it all laughable, was writer-director Oliver S Milburnís feature debut not so well executed.
The cast are, for the most part, very good. A few peripheral characters do the let the side down a little, but not enough to pull the viewer out of the nicely built atmosphere. Inventive compositions and nice use of shadows combine with the aforementioned score to keep things eerie in even the quietest moments, while regular flashbacks succeed in drawing us into Danielís world of paranoid depression. In time, we suspect those around him just as much as he does.
But who is the real threat here? What is happening to Daniel, and what will become of him if he achieves the vengeance he so desires?
Milburn keeps these questions pertinent throughout, rarely faltering in his measured march to the revealing finale. Thereís even blood and boobies along the way.
An attempt to flesh out the thugs is well intended but doesnít work as well as the rest of the film. But thatís a minor quibble when the rest of it is so stylish, convincing and well judged.
THE HARSH LIGHT OF DAY is an excellent low-budget slice of home-grown indie horror (shot around Dorset), well worth checking out.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by Left Films|