THE HARSH LIGHT OF DAY

THE HARSH LIGHT OF DAY

Having only recently reviewed Oliver Milburnís impressive low budget feature debut on these very pages, Iíve taken the liberty of reproducing my thoughts on the film itself below. This review has been updated and modified to incorporate an assessment of the very welcome UK DVD release from Monster Pictures.

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 and the atrocity is filmed for posterity. 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

This is an altogether more sombre offering than fellow British vampire films of late (DEAD CERT etc). 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 considered and executed.

The cast are, for the most part, very good. A few peripheral characters do 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. The script is tight, the editing adroit. 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.

Whatís more, Iím pleased to report that the film Ė a successful hybrid of social drama, vampire flick, thriller and crime genre - gets even better upon revisiting it.

Now available to buy on UK DVD courtesy of Eureka Entertainmentís Monster Pictures window, the film is presented uncut in a highly attractive 16x9 transfer which preserves the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio.

Darker scenes are coped with well by this transfer, while detail and depth are impressive throughout. Considering the budget for the film was reportedly around £100,000.00, it looks great and Monsterís disc aides in its polished, cinematic look.

English audio is served well by 2.0 and 5.1 mixes, the latter of which really brings out the haunting, memorable score and latter halfís impressive sound design.

The disc opens to a static main menu page. From there, an animated scene-selection menu allows access to the film via 10 chapters.

Extras are kick-started by an engaging audio commentary track from Milburn and producer Emma Biggins. As youíd expect, it makes for an excellent listen for all aspiring filmmakers out there. Milburn is friendly, fluent and refreshingly honest in translating the troubles he encountered and how they were overcome.

His award-winning 9-minute short "Speechless" follows. This is an offbeat, amusing piece about a troubled youth bored with life in a quiet B&B. It shows a different side to Milburn tonally, but further cements his plight as a storyteller of some skill.

A series of interviews with the young director follow, available to watch either individually or as one 5-minute whole. These are well-edited segments covering various aspects of the filmís making (post-production, the crew etc) and interspersing talking head-style thoughts from Milburn with behind-the-scenes footage. Great stuff.

"Danís Memory" is 2 minutes of 8mm footage of Milburnís mates larking around on a beach etc, filmed to represent the lead characterís happier times in the main feature. It comes with commentary from the director.

"Scene 36" uses a split-screen to compare a first cut and final cut of one of the filmís key scenes. It lasts just under 3 minutes and comes with beneficial optional commentary from Milburn.

Finally we get original trailers for the film, both of which are imaginative in differing ways.

THE HARSH LIGHT OF DAY is an excellent low-budget slice of home-grown indie horror (shot around Dorset), well worth checking out. Monster Pictures have done the film proud with this excellent DVD.

Review by Stuart Willis


 
Released by Monster Pictures
Region 2 PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review
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