Slamdance 2015: Darkness on the Edge of Town Review

Darkness on the Edge of Town is an ugly tale set in the picturesque Irish countryside. The film begins with a brutal knifing in a public bathroom. Though the actual killing is offscreen, we see the murderer clear as day, and soon learn that she is best friends with her victim’s sister, Cleo. While Robin, the killer, pretends to help Cleo search for her sister’s murderer, the mystery for the audience isn’t the ‘who?’, but the ‘why?’

Writer/ director Patrick Ryan starts with a gut punch then proceeds to work the entire body. It could have used a few moments of levity to break up the bleakness, but perhaps the humour was just too dark for my North American sensibilities to see. What’s most striking about Darkness of the Edge of Town is the work of cinematographer Tommy Fitzgerald, demonstrating an eye of a seasoned professional on his first feature as director of photography.

While it does contain elements of western and noir films, it’s also a take on Shakespeare’s Othello, where Iago acts as a friend to Othello while orchestrating a devious plot behind his back. Emma Eliza Regan and Emma Willis, as the heroine and the villain respectively, are strong female leads in a genre usually dominated by men.  While Robin is always quick with a knife, Cleo is a sharpshooter and whole new kind of gunslinger. The ill fated friends ultimately exemplify the sad truth that it is always the ones you love that hurt you the most.

Screens Sunday, Jan 25, 10:15pm and Wednesday, Jan 28, 6:20pm