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3.2 out of 5 stars
Dark Circles
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2013
Format: DVD
In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that after living in many parts of the country in a variety of dwelling units, I have come to the conclusion that, Rosemary's Baby notwithstanding, anyone who lives in a house and not an apartment, a multi-family dwelling unit as they call it, is asking for trouble, and, anyone living in a house with no neighbors within 15 feet of them, might just as well call in the Coroner or make an immediate reservation in the local institution for the mentally ill. When I see a film like this, I take it as only natural that the occupants will either be dead, institutionalized or, after much mental and physical anguish, departed for more salubrious housing.
I know nothing of anyone associated with the film in any way, but think that they did a decent job within narrowly circumscribed limits. The lead male seemed already half shot before the couple (with newborn baby) moved into their new surroundings. The woman appeared bewildered from the moment they left for the "country". The other parts were negligible to the central action of the film. It was OK for the creators and Director to play it low key and inexplicable throughout, but not OK for them to provide no meaningful source for the happenings
My recommendation: if you like haunted house movies this is generally acceptable and not a grade B horror film. If you do not like unresolved puzzles, you are likely to be dissatisfied with the film. I saw it and left it with a sense of unease, of incompleteness, a reaction which the Director appears to have wanted.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2013
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This is a remarkably impressive film that mostly uses the good but seldom now used Hitchockian method of creating suspense without showing much blood and gore. It creates tension with expert filming, music, and writing. The story presents a very plausible explanation for the horrors that face a family. The suspense is greatly enhanced as a baby is involved. This is the best horror-suspense movie I have seen in decades.

The tensions are increased throughout the film which increases the suspense. The movie digresses into a more modern ending which includes some blood, which may be the requirements of today's audience. Fortunately, the blood is not overdone. This movie lets one ponder issues such as who is the hero and who is the villain? The script is excellent. Overall, while horror is not my favorite genre, I was deeply impressed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
Slow starting, some scares and creepy scenes in it, I myself though did not care for it that much. Does have a twist in it which is decent, but again the movie to me was nothing great.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: Amazon Instant Video
Alex (Johnathon Schaech) and Penny (Pell James) move into their "Malibu Barbie Dreamhouse" with Tanner, their newborn. They are under stress as any new parents, plus there is construction going on nearby which makes daytime rest impossible. The film boasts a very good suspense and creep factor as a phantom woman (Lucresha Wells) appears to haunt them. Both of them have seen her and believe she doesn't exist. Their relationship becomes increasingly strained.

The acting and creep factor was done well. I really got into the film, but it seemed to go nowhere. You know everything seems to center around "the woman", but the film leaves you hanging about her until the very end, and then you say, "That's it?" The clues they give you don't allow you to piece things together. The climax doesn't do the rest of the film justice. A little more than a meh rental.

Parental Guide: No f-bombs, sex, or nudity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 6, 2014
Format: DVD
DARK CIRCLES

I have bought every After Dark film that they have released from the “Fest” to the “Originals”, have them all. Imagine my surprise when I found out that this After Dark film was written and directed by a member of the comedy team “Broken Lizard” who you might know from “Super Troopers” and such. I wasn’t expecting that and once I learned that I truly didn’t know what to expect. It turns out that this was a really good film and the ending was great.

A couple with a newborn baby is trying to find the perfect place to watch their child grow. So they decide that the city life is no longer for them with the new addition to the family. When finally deciding upon a house in the country they settle in and look forward to their new life together. But being parents is a lot harder than they thought it would be with sleepless nights and a baby needing constant attention. They go on without sleep for so long that they start seeing things that are not there, or are they.

Writer/director Paul Soter of Broken Lizard fame does a great job with this film letting things build slowly instead of forcing things like most horror films do nowadays. He does a good job letting the tension build without things getting boring which is tricky with films like this. It was cool to learn that this film was based on things that happened to him and his wife. That is just one of many things you learn while listening to the commentary on the DVD.

Acting wise this is another high spot of the film as stars Johnathon Schaech and Pell James did great here. They were very believable in their portrayals of a couple who go from loving and excited to tied and beat to scared and paranoid. They really carry the film with strong performances, in fact I believe that even if you didn’t like the story you could still enjoy what they did. Also Jennifer Foreman was great as the babysitter and it was great seeing her again, she was also in another After Dark film called “Seconds Apart”. She looks just like a girl that used to “live” with me and the character acts just like her, so that was kinda cool to see.

Over all I think that this was a pretty good film that does what it was meant to do. Soter did a good job here and I am looking forward to seeing if he ever enters the “horror” realm again. If he does I will be checking it out. Of course I will own anything Broken Lizard does so I will be seeing him again, hopefully we get that “Super Troopers 2”.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
This was a very solid horror movie, I've heard some complaints about its pace but I personally felt it moved just right. It wasn't repeated shock scenes and nonstop creepiness, but with the context of the plot I think the pacing was just right.

There are some nods to horror fans throughout, and I think this is a great take on a "haunted house" story. Honestly seeing the director's history (super troopers, beerfest..) I did not have high expectations beyond a standard by-the-numbers horror movie (which is kind of what I wanted at the time), but I was pleasantly surprised by "Dark Circles."

Under normal circumstances I would rate this kind of movie at a three. I don't have the desire to watch it again, but I did thoroughly enjoy it and consider it worth recommending. This movie is set apart from a lot of modern horror though in that all the elements are implemented tastefully, there is the crucial element of mystery throughout, and everything that happens "makes sense," i.e. they weren't ridiculous plot devices to get the character in yet-another shock scare with sudden sound effects. The movie proceeded logically, and that might be part of what can make it really get under your skin.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
I am a huge fan and collector of horror movies, but, unfortunately, no longer easily frightened or disturbed. One of the After Dark season one movies, "Unrest," actually gave me nightmares, so I am disapponted that the After Dark series has run out of steam. I bought "Dark Circles" when it first became available, and was bothered enough to want to see it again, but couldn't remember the title or from which of my collections it came. I am happy to have relocated it after much thought and searching. Anyone who has ever had trouble sleeping or gone through long periods of sleeplessness for some reason (I worked back-to-back night and day shifts for several years) will relate to the feeling you get when you are exhausted even to the point of seeing things that aren't there (I nearly swerved off the road on the way to my night shift to miss a guy who wasn't there). Some terrible things happen when this guy finally gets some sleep, and the nightmarish feeling of the final scene might make you wonder if he ever woke at all. This is probably a four, but I'm giving it five so that those who stop only for highly-rated movies might consider giving it a twirl. As a tough critic of horror films, I recommend it, and am just about to watch it again myself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon March 1, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
From the get-go this is a film that demonstrates a fair amount of legitimately creepy moments but unfortunately the central characters are just so darn unlikeable. He's a struggling jazz pianist, she's a former professional something-or-other but now stay-at-home mother; neither seem to be working much and yet they buy a big, new home in the country and sit around all day being driven steadily insane by construction workers, each other and a newborn that wakes up every 15 minutes screaming. Oh, and there's also a creepy chick in desperate need of dental work lurking about which of course makes a bad situation even more difficult not to mention that visitors have a nasty habit of dying.

I guess for me the overarching story was just way too depressing to simply enjoy the horror and again, the main characters are completely unsympathetic as they sit around stewing in paranoid, delusional fantasies all the while tearing at each other so that by the ending I really couldn't share in their triumph. :o)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
This was a surprisingly effective piece of psychological/paranormal/home invasion filmmaking. I found the acting pretty convincing, the plot unique enough, the suspense palpable in a slow burn sense, the questioning of reality compelling, and the character development above par for the horror genre. More than anything, I felt I was a part of the quiet melee, a fly on the wall in the couple's unwinding, and though the ending wraps things up a little too easily, it's still well worth the watch.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
Watched the trailer thought it looked good, gave it a try had never heard of movie thought it was good very well acted I really enjoyed it great thriller great ending.
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