A Darker Reality DVD Review

Written by Steve Pattee

DVD released by Phase 4 Films

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Directed by Chris Kazmier
Written by Sxv'leithan Essex
2008, Region 1 (NTSC), 90 minutes, Unrated
DVD released on January 10th, 2011

Daniel Baldwin as The Ghost
Sunny Doench as Jesse Metcalfe
James C. Burns as Alex Belasco
Jonathan Oldham as Quail
Alisha Seaton as Carey
Warren Draper as Tom Hamilton
Arthur Bullock as Newt


Sometimes when I watch a movie as bad as A Darker Reality, it's tough to know where to begin on the review because of the number of things wrong with it. When very little works, I don't even know where to start, so I guess we'll go with plot first.

A Darker Reality's story is simple enough. A serial killer known as The Ghost (Daniel Baldwin) is kidnapping girls left and right for some sort of torture harem. This apparently has been going on for some time and Detective Alex Belasco (James C. Burns) is in charge of the case. As it goes, since Belasco isn't getting far in this case, the Mayor's office is throwing down pressure and he's forced to work with psychiatrist Sunny Doench. There's also a victim, Carey, who managed to escape The Ghost somehow, and she provides help throughout the movie via her talks with Metcalfe, as well as a convict, Quail, who's eager to provide Belasco with information.

The movie is split into two parts.: The first is The Ghost's story, which just follows him around as he treats women horribly by cutting them, yelling at them, snipping off their body parts, you know, the normal things evil people do. You always know when it's about The Ghost because the scenes are dark and dreary. The second part follows Metcalfe and Belasco around as they "investigate" the case. Most of their investigation consists of looking at videos The Ghost has made especially for Belasco, pondering his next victim and talking to Carey or Quail. Now that I think about it, Belasco and Metcalfe don't do much of anything to further the case except wait for Carey or Quail to tell them their next move. These two parts intermingle throughout the film and never really meet to form one cohesive story. There's never even a confrontation between The Ghost and Detective Belasco. Hell, there's never even any confrontation at all, really. To be fair, there is some sort of half-assed attempt at a twist ending as well as a definite attempt to leave the film open for a sequel, but by the time you get to this point, you will have more satisfaction that the film is finally over.

Not helping the story is the score. When a film starts to annoy you with its mediocrity, you can't help but notice more and more of its failings. Sometimes a good score will elevate your enjoyment of a movie, perhaps more than it should if it's great, but not the case here. The music you get in A Darker Reality is nothing more than pedestrian background noise that eventually becomes annoying in its monotony. Imagine watching Halloween, but with a shit score. It gets old fast. (And, yeah, next time you watch Halloween, take notice of how often the Myers' jingle is played.)

The movie isn't all bad, though. Well, it is, but there are a few positive things that can be mentioned. First, the performances were decent enough, all things considered. Daniel Baldwin was over-the-top in more than a few scenes, but I pin that more on the director than Baldwin. The best performance in the film has to go to Jonathan Oldham as Quail. His character is painfully stereotypical for a jailhouse snitch, but he exudes a nice creepiness that almost makes up for the sad dialogue. No complaints at all for the rest. It is what it is.

The other things that should be at least acknowledged are the special effects, and one scene in particular: a skin flaying scene. Well done, effects team! While it's not enough for me to recommend this film on any level, I do hope it goes in your reel as it is one of the finer moments in the movie.

It's been a while since I've reviewed a movie as bad as this one, and it just frustrates me that this gets distribution while there are other, better independent films still begging for release. Skip this one entirely and if you want to see the filet o' skin scene, let me know in the comments and I'll give you a timestamp for you to look for when (if) it streams on Netflix.

Video and Audio:

A Darker Reality's 1.85:1 anamorphic presentation is pretty good for an indie feature. The daylight and brightly lit scenes are crisp and the darker scenes look nice without the softness I have come to expect.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is nothing spectacular. Dialogue is clear, but there isn't a lot of use of the surrounds. An average mix for this type of movie.

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Special Features:

  • Trailers
  • Deleted Scenes

The disc has just the barebones features of deleted scenes and trailers. Both can be skipped, but one of the deleted scenes is interesting in that it is a huge foreshadowing of the film's "shocking" ending. Wisely cut, but irrelevant all the same.

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Movie: Grade Cover
Video: Grade
Audio: Grade
Features: Grade
Overall: 1.5 Star Rating
Steve Pattee
US Editor, Admin
He's the puppet master. You don't see him, but he pulls the strings that gets things done. He's the silent partner. He's black ops. If you notice his presence, it's the last thing you'll notice — because now you're dead. He's the shadow you thought you saw in that dark alleyway. You can have a conversation with him, and when you turn around to offer him a cup of coffee, he's already gone.
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