Verdict: 3 / 5
Dark Circles was actually pleasantly surprising. I must say this right off the bat, because the more I learned about it, the more I hated it. It was a generic horror-ish appearing film that would doubtless attempt an awful twist at the end.
It was directed by a member of “comedy” group Broken Lizard, a group that I swore eternal enmity and vengeance on for their crimes against humanity. It’s released by After Dark Films; those paragons of cinematic wonderment. The DVD box has the most appalling choice of font on the back, which reminded me of nothing more than the first time a child learns to use WordArt for a primary school project. The description on the back literally has the first line read: “Haunted House film about a pair of sleep deprived parents….” It reads like a memo that somebody sent in as a short summary that never got improved, and was put in as a final copy. It’s laughable. And despite really really really wanting to hate this; the movie had the audacity to be pretty good. Which meant I could hate it for that, so it all worked out for me.
Michael and Nancy are a new married couple, expecting the birth of their first child. Realizing that New York might not be the quietest and most peaceful home for a new baby, they decide to move to a more rural, peaceful home in the wilderness. Once the baby arrives, it does in fact sleep ever so peacefully, but the parents find that their own ability to sleep is decreasing, and they are both plagued by worse and worse insomnia. This is the beauty of the movie, as such a problem is all too horrible to imagine, and all sorts of questions are raised about what is real and what isn’t; what is conjured by a sleep deprived mind and what is genuinely a supernatural force.
Dark Circles is a film that feels very slow building, and feels much longer than its 90 minute time slot would indicate. However, by using horror that feels real and genuine, combined with supernatural elements used in the slightest form, the audience can be hooked into it, and feel the fear on a very visceral level. It’s not the greatest horror of all time; but substantially better than its pedigree would indicate.