The ruthless crime thriller “Coming Home in the Dark” opens with a brutal sequence of violence that sets the tone for the rest of the film. This is a tough one to watch because director James Ashcroft pulls no punches in showing the evil darkness that lurks within some men, and the tension grows to the point that it is almost unbearable.
Hoaggie (Erik Thomson) his wife Jill (Miriama McDowell), and their two teenage sons are enjoying a beautiful day in New Zealand. They’ve taken a road trip to an isolated coastline and after a hike, find a secluded spot with a view to have a restful picnic. They’re interrupted by two menacing drifters (Daniel Gillies, Matthias Luafutu) who demand the keys to the family’s car. The ominous men aren’t satisfied with ending it there, and a disturbing act of violence changes what was supposed to be a pleasant day into a nightmare.
The story is simple, but terrifying. Ashcroft is relentless in portraying the horrors that befall this family at the hands of two psychotic killers. Most of the film takes place within the confines of a car, and the plot quite literally involves the family members being driven back home in the dark at the hands of their captors. Gillies gives a spine-chilling performance as a quietly unhinged lunatic, and he’s able to establish so much fear with nothing but a menacing stare. He absolutely sells the role to the maximum effect.
This isn’t the most inventive revenge movie, as Ashcroft digs from the “let’s go all-out and make each scene more awful than the one before” arsenal too often. His characters are victims of inaction and when they eventually decide to make a move, they do things that are completely stupid. This in turn makes the film seem a little tawdry and cheap.
“Coming Home in the Dark” is filled with an unrelenting brutality that will give your nerves a jolt. It’s not particularly memorable, but it’s good enough to recommend for fans of the genre. If you do decide to take the plunge, buckle in and prepare your emotions for a ride to some of the bleakest places imaginable.