In Darkness We Fall (La Cueva) is a taut, suspenseful Spanish horror from director Alfredo Montero. It tells the story of five friends – Ivan, Jaco, Carlos, Celia and Beno – who take a trip to the Balearic island of Formentara to get away from it all, without telling anyone where, or for how long, they’re going. They drink, smoke, and generally misbehave against a backdrop of beautiful and desolate scenery. But when Jaco finds a huge cave in the side of a cliff, they get over-excited and venture too far in, only to find they can’t retrace their route out. As they succumb to dehydration, exhaustion and the growing fear that they are hopelessly lost, their thoughts begin to turn to more drastic measures to stay alive. The film takes the form of mock found-footage, as movie buff Carlos films all the action on his camera.
The characters are pretty generic, but then, that’s all they need to be. They represent broad personality types, rather than actual three-dimensional people: there’s the angry one, the sensitive one, the handsome one and so on. If you’re looking for in-depth characterisation, well, you’re watching the wrong film. The actors ham it up nicely in the later scenes, as their situation turns increasingly desperate. Marcos Ortiz is great as bad-guy Jaco, who seems to embrace the descent into inhumanity worryingly quickly.
There’s ultimately nothing surprising here in terms of plot, but some of the scenes are chillingly and graphically realised. The claustrophobia and suffocating atmosphere of the cave is neatly conveyed by the constantly swinging camera and the sparse sound design – long periods of the film pass in near-silence. Visually, the sight of these pretty young things transforming into blood, mud and dirt-caked animals by the end is very effective.
It’s all in danger of being just a bit silly at times, particularly as events reach their violent climax, but overall it successfully maintains the tension throughout. Some scenes are genuinely terrifying, notably when Jaco takes the camera and tries to swim to freedom underwater. The actors all deliver fine performances, but the film never really offers anything unexpected. It doesn’t linger long and never really rises above the confines of the genre, but, it’s an extremely well-executed, tight concept, and is every bit as tense and uneasy to watch as it could hope to be.
The UK release date for In Darkness We Fall is yet to be announced.
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Watch the trailer for In Darkness We Fall here: