JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Dark Secrets (Director/Writer: Frank Falco) - May 15, 2009

Dark Secrets

a.k.a. Cold Earth

4 4
101 min.

Child of the Living Dead

There’s a new horror/thriller on the block and it’s well worth a peek.

Writer/director Frank Falco has taken the case of a kidnapped child and crafted it into a fascinating study of the apparently distraught parents (Kate Thurwell—Lori van Dyke—is just fine as the self-serving TV star; car-racer hubby Gary Daniels exudes bossiness and bluster but perhaps he doth protest too much …) and the determined cops (Steven Elliott as Detective Sergeant Farrell totally nails the reformed-alcoholic assignment, haunted by his own transgressions; loyal-to-the-end sidekick, Ben Shockley, is ideally cast as his partner’s living conscience).

As the investigation tries to move forward, uncertain if the abductor is yet a murderer, the eerie atmosphere is ably supported by Ioannis Kourtis’ “piano noir” score, cinematographer Kit Fraser’s clear-just-when-it-needs-to-be array of images and the split-second scary crispness due to editor Simon Cox’s considerable talent.

With visions of children—both living and dead—appearing at will, a séance that chills all concerned and an unscrupulous photographer lurking in the narrative’s weeds, the action moves at a furious and wonderfully horrific pace.

Falco has the very good sense to show just enough and let his viewers’ active imaginations fill in the blanks as the noose begins to tighten around the sick mind that preys on the weak and innocent. But don’t mess with the undead!

The only flaw in the characterization stems from Lori’s lack of motherly concern. Her decision to keep shooting her show and let police do all of the work belies the maternal instinct that even the most spoiled and heartless amongst us have somewhere beneath their haughty exteriors. As we’ve all seen far too often, the disappearance of a son or daughter is the stuff that reunites—temporarily—even the most acrimonious of long-divorced couples.

That quibble aside, these secrets are well worth unravelling—preferably in a very dark room and in the company of a loved one. JWR

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Director/Writer - Frank Falco
Producers - Ernest Riera, Matt Taylor
Cinematography - Kit Fraser
Editor - Simon Cox
Original Music - Ioannis Kourtis
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