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Released in 2014
Directed by Patrick Ryan
TL;DR – A mess of a little indie film that clearly had some talent behind it. There’s not a single likable character, the dialogue is clunky at best, the entire premise is un-realistic if not straight up unbelievable and the overall tone of the film is so full of angst that it feels like a 1st semester film student made it. 3/10
***REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS***
Cleo and her friend Robin are orphans in rural Ireland. I use the word “orphans” to say that Robin’s family is really messed up and Cleo lives with a foster family whom she does not like much and spends most of her time away from them.
The town they live in appears to be comprised of mostly criminals and thuggish type folks, with local gangs running the show and a gun smith who sells black market weapons on the side. Cleo is some sort of talented “sharp shooter” which is never really explained or explored much beyond an occasional “She’ll be in the Olympics one day” muttered from a forgettable, unlikable character.
When she finds her estranged older sister dead in a public restroom, Cleo and Robin vow to get revenge on whomever did this and thus begins 90 minutes of terrible acting, dialogue, unlikable characters and so many holes in the writing that you would think an Olympic shooter was using the script for target practice. (bad pun)
I did not like “Darkness on the Edge of Town” for some of the reasons stated above, and there’s more to go along with them. Let’s start with what I liked about this film.
It’s filmed on location in the middle of nowhere, Ireland. It’s frankly a pretty perfect backdrop for this type of story, and instead of it simply being pretty scenery, we see some really interesting cinematography and stunning lighting, camera control and compositions. It’s a very attractive looking film. The music is also perfect, ethereal drones and the occasional piano set the tone for what was supposed to be a thoughtful film, but you lose that aspect whenever someone speaks. There WAS a story element that I thought worked well in this, and that was the fact that right away you know who killed Cleo’s sister, which makes you think less about the “who” and more about the “why.” Unfortunately, due to the amateurish writing that’s never really answered either, and it turns out to be quite frustrating.
First of all, when Cleo holds her gun(how did this high-school aged girl get this kind of weapon in the first place?) she really, really looks like she has no idea how to hold it. As a person who grew up around rifles I found it very distracting how she tilted her head, stuck her elbow out and had her left hand choked almost all the way up the barrel. You never actually see her discharge it, either – you just hear a terrible stock sound effect as the camera cuts away.
I don’t think the director wanted us to like any of the characters – and boy did he succeed. None of the characters with any sort of screen type are likable and relatable at all, and at one point I think we’re supposed to sympathize with one – but I can’t possibly imagine doing so with how awful this character is. The only interesting character that I wanted to know more about was the gun shop owner who was selling a gun to Robin’s brother Virgil for reasons that are never explained.
There’s just so many “conveniences” similar to Virgil buying the gun before he knew he would need to defend himself, to MaCheath, the local gang leader just showing up when the plot needed him to near the end.
And speaking of the ending, I think we were supposed to left feeling like certain characters had redeemed themselves but as I said, I could never sympathize with any of them so this was completely lost on me.
After all of this, you’re just left with a hollow “what was the point of that” sort of feeling. To be honest, the real star of this film is Ireland itself, and Tommy Fitzgerald, the cinematographer for his really beautiful camera work and compositions. It’s not enough to save the movie for me, or for it to warrant a recommendation, but you should consider it of you appreciate that sort of thing.