Writer, director and actor Jozsef Gallai (“Echoes (Short)”, “A Guidebook To Killing Your Ex”) sent us his latest project to review, the atmospheric, found footage, horror film, Spirits In The Dark.
The film clocks in at just over an hour in length and is full of fantastic, creepy music from Gergo Elekes (“Gone (Short)”, “Alone (Short)”), and is shot from a first-person point of view.
Gallai plays Gil, a man who has recently lost his wife and daughter in childbirth. They had a hobby which involved them wondering around old, abandoned buildings, filming the footage and putting it on the internet.
One day, Gil finds some footage on his computer but doesn’t know where it has come from. It looks like something he would make, but he doesn’t remember doing so. At the end of the footage there’s a shot of a white pendent, which is exactly like the one Gil’s wife used to wear, then the camera quickly pans, and we see an apparition in the doorway.
Gil sets out to find the building in the footage and, despite a warning from a bearded, horror film mainstay Peter Cosgrove (“Violent Starr”, “Escape From Cannibal Farm”), he tracks down the building and begins to film.
We watch, from his point of view, as Gil explores this strange place. The area reminded me of Pripyat, and just as I thought that, so Gil, in voice-over mode, expresses the same opinion.
As Gil makes his way through this abandoned building, he finds some disturbing things like blood and teeth on the floor. Believing them to be props from a movie, he continues his exploration. Even when he finds a creepy mask hung-up, and more blood and teeth, he’s undeterred, hoping he can find something of his wife in this place.
As night falls, Gil decides to stay and continue shooting, seeing how the place changes in the dark. It’s here when the creepiness really ramps up; his car horn begins randomly beeping, then the apparition from the video, a girl, appears in front of him.
Gil runs but can’t get the car started and ends up in the woods where he comes across blood-soaked letters pinned to trees. As the movie progresses, the tension increases and now Gil feels like he must complete a task before he can even think about leaving.
Throughout Spirits In The Dark I kept thinking about The Blair Witch Project movie. Not that they’re the same, but, in parts, I was reminded of The Blair Witch. I think Spirits In The Dark could be the YouTube generation’s Blair Witch as, at times, it is like watching someone playing a computer game; roaming an abandoned building, peering into rooms, the narrow viewport of the camera restricting what your eyes would naturally be able to see.
When there’s no creepy music all you can hear is Gil’s footsteps crunching on the ground, sometimes his breathing. When it’s not that it’s his deep, dark voice, filling in what you can’t see.
Spirits In The Dark is a great low-budget film, full of atmosphere and some very nice shots and wonderfully appropriate music. Despite a relatively short run-time, the movie can feel long in parts and, whilst I think I understand what Gallai was trying to do with the ending, I’m not sure he quite managed to pull it off.
Still, Spirits In The Dark is a nicely put together film. It is refreshing to see a movie not go for cheap, jump-out-of-your-seat shots, and film large parts in daylight, but still manage to bring tension to proceedings.