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From Europe, With Scares

While we will be reviewing a particular movie for Article Wednesday, it will also mesh as a nod to European horror and its refreshing takes on the genre since the turn of the century. Europe has become a factory for multi-dimensional, well-conceived horror films that tinker with attributes of the genre in creative and ingenious ways, like a sadistic child who gets a hold of his dad's old box of Legos.

America is by no means the king of horror, but there was a time the genre reigned supreme in the realm of the States. As early as the 50's, America was turning out horror films like propoganda. And some of them were propoganda...But it became an adopted medium America claimed as its own. And throughout the 80's and parts of the 90's, it felt like America had saturated the genre so heavily it was hard to see through it to any other cultural additions.

But, admittedly, the genre has often been more well defined, well received, and well constructed by our friends across the Atlantic. From Germany's Nosferatu in 1922 to more recent films like Sweden's Let The Right One In in 2008, Europe has a way of finding angles not yet seen and turning them into films that are some kind of blend between arthouse and genuine horror (and that's just with vampires!). But back to Nosferatu...

That film is respected amongst many horror-loving film cultures across the planet as one of the fathers of the horror genre, along with classics like The Devil's Castle, Phantom of the Opera and Frankenstein. But was the character ever fully explored, fully developed, or...even broken apart and rebuilt?

In an attempt to rebuild the vision of Nosferatu in a vague and unassuming way, we got the Irish film From the Dark. Let me preface by saying this film is by no means perfect. Heck, it falls into many of the same lulls of conventional horror that have become boring. But it also gave us a fresh vision of vampires by allowing the action to describe our assailant and its attributes. We never get a clear shot of, what we quickly discover is, our ancient vampire, but its movements and glimpses pay homage to the classic 1922 creature of old, but in a more feral way.

The film gives us effective imagery to tell the tale of the creature without having to throw its structure and motive in our face. Our first victim unknowingly releases our vampire from his tomb while doing [hefty] yard work and soon becomes the first and primary assailant for our couple for a good portion of the film. Our assumptions of vampires are not thrown in our face like a broken record, but rather used as brief acknowledgements to the audience that, yes, they understand if you are watching this, you have seen horror films before and you understand what a vampire is, so catch on to our clever hints and enjoy the movie.

This clever imagery and effective use of off-camera and dark corner cinematography gave the film a feel similar to the oft-effective brand of Irish horror. Most everything else falls short, but if for no other reason than that, the film holds its own as a "generic indie horror film", boasting a little more pep than most of its saturated American brethren.

Horror Qualifier: 8/10

Horror Quality: 6/10

Film Quality: 4/10

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