Despite a handful of nods of international films festivals, Paul Fox’s The Dark Hours is better known for a more dubious honour. It was the lowest grossing film of 2005.
Screening for one week in one sympathetic NYC theatre, Fox’s film grossed a piddling $423. It’s floundering was so remarkable that Wired editor Chris Anderson used The Dark Hours as an example of how distribution bottlenecks crucially blight box office receipts in his book The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More. (Anderson also blogged about the film here.)
But as the latest entry at the Revue Cinema’s “Canadian Cinema in Revue” series, The Dark Hours now has the opportunity to make more of an impression on Toronto audiences (or at least make another quick four hundred bucks).
Though poorly marketed and distributed upon its initial release (the title and poster alone smack distinctly of direct-to-DVD mediocrity), The Dark Hours remains a fairly taut psychological thriller. Starring Kate Greenhouse as a prison psychiatrist nurturing a malignant brain tumour, Fox’s film mixes clever psychodrama and tense isolationist horror in equal measure.
Though at times all too evocative of home-invasion fare like Haneke’s Funny Games and Amat Escalante’s Los Bastardos, The Dark Hours does not share these films’ nihilism. Though the film’s moral universe is at best topsy-turvy, it is a morality film all the same. Where the camera-winking punks of Funny Games wallow all too readily in their violent fourth wall-shattering, Fox and writer Wil Zmak have their characters grappling boldly with themes of responsibility, justice and patterns of institutionalized abuse.
To say too much about The Dark Hours is to undermine its knotty matrix of variedly convincing plot twists. So suffice it to say that it’s a solid piece of indie Canadian horror cinema providing ample Halloween season spooks, all underscored by an intellect uncommon of the genre. Though not light-hearted enough to make it a Halloween classic, The Dark Hours, at the very least, deserves a return on its initial $500,000 investment.
The Dark Hours screens this Wednesday, Oct. 28th at the Revue Cinema (400 Roncesvalle Ave.) in Toronto followed by a conversation and Q&A session with director Paul Fox. In the tradition of the Canadian Cinema in Revue programme, it is preceded by Colin Cunningham’s excellent revenge thriller Centigrade.