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CFF Review: James Ashcroft’s ‘Coming Home in the Dark’

CFF Review: James Ashcroft’s ‘Coming Home in the Dark’

James Ashcroft’s “Coming Home In The Dark” is a stark, grounded, and harrowing exploration of the notion that being a complicitous bystander has consequences too. Over the course of this hour and a half runtime you’ll learn the disturbing motivations of the drifters as well as get a glimpse into their traumatic past, that just might be more connected to this seemingly innocent family than you’d think.

Right from the opening sequence you’ll notice the elegant cinematography with suggestive lingering shots, subtle camera movement, and excellent composition. Dropped into the car with a family on their way to a rural picnic spot by a lake, your provided some characterization time with the four family members as they arrive at their destination. The quaint outing is quickly derailed by two drifters who approach the family and don’t waste any time withdrawing a rifle to rob the family at gunpoint, and this is only the beginning of one of the darkest trips you’ll be taken on in recent memory. The less plot you know going in, the better, as this film is packed with shocking moments that hit much harder when you don’t know they’re coming. 

The performances are incredibly well done all around, even from the supporting characters with little screen time, but Mandrake’s (played by Daniel Gillies) despicable nature really sets the tone of the whole thing. These are very real and broken people, which you’ll subtly be given loads of context for while following them on this hellacious ride through the New Zealand countryside, where their past traumas surface in a very interesting way. This is one of those films that really sits with you after it’s over, where you’ll likely find yourself juggling a variety of emotions as you try to process what you just witnessed. 

Overall, “Coming Home in the Dark” is a powerful and well-made film that’s not for the faint of heart, though absolutely worth a watch for fans of hard-hitting, horrific thrillers. If this sounds like your kind of road trip, the picnic is happening now on Netflix and VOD.