A small group of would-be ghost-hunters in search of monumental fame investigate a notoriously haunted location, only to unleash a terrifying darkness in Adam B Sergent’s comedy/horror Darkness Hunting.
Darkness Hunting is a strange concoction of a feature film that seems strangely out of time. It’s reminiscent of 90’s pop culture staples including the self-aware ironic horror films like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, smug children’s sitcoms like Saved By The Bell, and the teen angst dramedies like My So Called Life and Dawson’s Creek. It uses all the usual low-budget horror tropes we have seen time and time again, including a group of bickering young people visiting an isolated location, an absurd psychic medium seeing death and destruction, and unexplainable potentially supernatural incidents occurring throughout the film. Although Darkness Hunting isn’t wholly successful in what it attempts to do, it does manage to raise a few smiles and the odd scare from its viewing audience.
Derek Jenkins (played with obnoxious delight by David Rice) is a Vlogger-slash-wannabe TV star who craves fame and fortune. He plans to visit a haunted location with a few friends and a camera to ‘fake’ some scary footage that he hopes will go viral and make him a big star. Joining him on this initial fake ghost hunt are a group of stock characters from every horror film made over the past 40 years. We have Boyd the jock (actor Jordan Bryant) Sarah the bitchy Princess (played by Madison Deatherage, *such a great name for a scream queen), smart cookie Jennifer (Damita Harris), and nerdy loner Eli (Wheeler Green). Each one manages to bring their own take on these familiar roles and as a group they all managed to create great chemistry, playing off of each other quite well. However, as the film progresses, what they all come across is a far darker story and something that becomes a little too real for their liking.
From the beginning, there are some major issues we notice with Darkness Hunting that stop it from becoming a truly immersive experience. The sound editing is a little rough around the edges with a lot of character dialogue sounding muffled and difficult to understand. The music remains an interesting choice throughout as it sounds completely at odds with what we are watching because it is very upbeat and jolly. There is an argument that the music is to highlight that Darkness Hunting is much more a self-aware comedy than it is a horror, and while that is true the soundtrack is very noticeable and it sounds like it comes from a completely different film. The acting from the leads is patchy in parts, with moments of blocking and line deliveries a little stilted and stiff, while a significant issue is the lighting. The film is set during the daytime when there is bright sunlight and although Sergent tries his best to dull and darken the internal shots and scenes, he just can’t make it dark enough to create a foreboding and frightening atmosphere.
One of the most memorable parts of the film is its use of a bizarre medium played by the scenery-chewing Chris Olds. Old’s performance is hilariously over the top, bringing to mind the great comic actor Patrick Warburton of Family Guy and The Tick fame. He brings a ridiculousness to the movie that is far more enjoyable than many other typical horror-comedy fares.
Another positive is Sergent’s script, as his dialogue is clever, funny, and smart, and it is this aspect of the film where Darkness Hunting really does excel. Sergent’s film is at its best when he allows the friends’ free reign to bicker, squabble, and backstab their way through his script while he simply leaves his camera recording. Darkness Hunting is an enjoyable film that, although not particularly horrific, will certainly please fans of witty repartee and banter.