Boasts a considerable fear factor.
Review by: MiamiMovieCritic
Added: 8 years ago
It’s amazing how much this movie accomplishes in less than three minutes. It tells a complete story, features believable performances by two child actors, and boasts a considerable fear factor. No small feat.
If we’re searching for a larger theme, it would be how the media spread fear unnecessarily, and the societal ramifications of that. The film opens with two kids playing on a trampoline. As their parents wave them goodbye, they hear a radio announcer break a news story about an escaped convict (“stay indoors… suspicious activity”). The girl sees something that suggests they’re not alone, and the boy, apparently convinced he’s in an episode of the Hardy Boys, retrieves a shotgun and goes to investigate. Of course, all is not as it seems.
Is the movie anti-gun? Anti-bad parenting? Pro-cultivation theory? All of the above. Again, it’s astonishing how much director Andrew Pearce is able to convey. Fear at Dusk is as concise and jam-packed with symbolic imagery as an anti-tobacco Truth commercial.
Like Hitchcock, Pearce builds suspense through visual information. Somewhat ominously, as if we were seeing the kids through a stalker’s eyes, the camera circles around the trampoline. The radio falls to the ground, then, in a jarring cut that somehow works, the girl crawls toward the house. We see a door shutting through her eyes. Everything we need to know is conveyed in a few set-ups. The breakneck pace of the rest of the film is achieved through some truly bravura editing. This frightening movie is proof of film’s unique ability to tell stories in a compact way.