Toronto After Dark 2009: Dark Hour

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The Dark Hour

Directed by Elio Quiroga

Any attempt to unearth hidden meaning behind Spain’s Sci-Fi thriller The Dark Hour would simply give it too much credit. While watching this film, it becomes glaringly obvious that writer-director Elio Quiroga heavily borrows visuals and themes from the Alien franchise, but fails miserably to evoke the same tension.

After an apocalyptic war forces a group of eight people to live in an underground installation, they must not only contend with each other, but a diseased community known as the Strangers and their ominous cousins, called the Invisibles.

Like the Alien movies, Quiroga’s protagonists barricade themselves in claustrophobic hangers, run down dark narrow hallways with lights affixed to their weapons, use the creatures to off their human adversaries and involve themselves in a cat and mouse chase at the end.  The similarities are astounding.  Even the cold tones of Ángel Luis Fernández’s cinematography recall the isolation of Ridley Scott’s opus.

There isn’t a solitary frightening moment in the Dark Hour, which is a huge upset for a film in this genre.  The Strangers are as frightening as someone masquerading as a ghost under a white sheet ,and the CGI-laden Invisibles are laughable cartoons.  But the Dark Hour isn’t only hobbled by its low production values; it also suffers from Quiroga’s weak script, marred with too many dull moments and senseless exposition from its unmemorable characters.

If Alien hadn’t existed, I might have thought that the Dark Hour had some redeeming qualities, but then again, if Alien didn’t exist, there’s be no Dark Hour to discuss.

Nigel Hamid

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