Indie horror-thriller, All Light Will End, was among Netflix’s new slate of horror movies added in February. Like many independent horror movies, Chris Blake’s directorial debut screened at a few smaller horror film festivals before landing a distribution deal. Last year at this time, horror fans were surprised with a few good, smaller movies like Pyewacket and Still/Born. Is All Light Will End another mid-winter sleeper hit for horror fans?
Successful author Savannah is on a weekend getaway to celebrate her brother’s graduation. Savannah’s boyfriend, David, and her friends have joined her for the trip. But Savannah is haunted by a tragic past. In the dark of the night, she’s plagued by night terrors that may be the key to uncovering long-buried memories. Soon her night terrors begin to bleed into her waking thoughts, blurring reality and fantasy, and putting friends and family alike at risk.
All Light Will End Suffers From Pacing and Editing Problems
All Light Will End is a boring movie. Really boring. At just a mere 88 minutes, the movie feels so much longer. Some of this problem stems from sluggish pacing. After a promising five minute prologue, All Light Will End limps from scene to scene in absent-minded fashion. A good slow-burn thriller still needs atmosphere and an early-established threat or ominous direction from which to ratchet up its tension. Director Chris Blake, who also co-wrote the screenplay, fails to drum up much in the way of that requisite atmosphere. Too little of consequence happens between events that should conjure up suspense or scares.
…All Light Will End is a poorly edited movie. Several scenes awkwardly drag on with little actually transpiring on screen.
In addition to pacing problems, All Light Will End is a poorly edited movie. Several scenes awkwardly drag on with little actually transpiring on screen. It’s not just one or two scenes – it’s several scenes across the movie. And no, there really is nothing of importance unfolding to justify these extended sequences. Think of it like long, uncomfortable pauses in a conversation with a socially awkward person. When ‘stuff’ actually happens, it consistently underwhelms. Horror fans will be disappointed by the absence of scares. Blake doesn’t have a good handle on staging jumps or shocks. In spite of is ‘cabin in the woods’ setting, horror fans also shouldn’t go into the movie expecting gore or intricate death scenes. What’s left is the movie’s psychological angle, which similarly falls flat.
An Interesting Concept Without a Compelling Story
Somewhere in All Light Will End is a good idea. Unfortunately, based on what’s in the movie, that idea was probably a one- or two-sentence premise. If All Light Will End was a seven- to 10-minute movie short, like David Sandberg’s original Lights Out, I could see investors being impressed. Of course, I also think investors would have liked to see Blake’s concept fleshed out for a feature length movie. And this is the problem with All Light Will End. Ultimately, there is not much story that propels the movie for a good 50 minutes or so. This is a movie book-ended by ‘stuff happening’, but that runs on empty for most of its runtime.
…Blake insists on ‘telling you’ rather than ‘showing you’.
This book-ending approach to its storytelling still underwhelms because All Light Will End breaks a cardinal rule. That is, Blake insists on ‘telling you’ rather than ‘showing you’. So much of the movie’s final twist relies on expository-laden flashbacks. In addition, Blake’s screenplay doesn’t really lay the groundwork for the movie’s final reveal. Unlike some of the better twist endings, All Light Will End has to retroactively assign meaning to past actions and dialogue for its conclusion to work. This isn’t organic story-telling. Good suspenseful movies engage from start to finish; you pay attention to try to decipher possible hidden clues. That’s not how this movie works. Earlier scenes still feel boring and meaningless. Blake’s twist isn’t much different from Friday the 13th randomly introducing Mrs. Voorhees as the killer. Except Friday the 13th’s twist happens in what’s still a fun horror movie.
Underwritten Characters Under-Served by Stiff Performances
Indie thrillers and horror movies often feature uneven performances. In the case of All Light Will End, there’s not much uneven about the acting. Performances range from pretty broad to just downright stiff. As lead character, ‘Savannah’, Ashley Pereira turns in a flat performance. She conveys a very limited range of emotions. As boyfriend ‘David’, Andy Buckley just feels completely miscast. Aside from a lack of chemistry with Pereira, Buckley seems to be acting in a very different movie. His performance comes across as almost ‘goofy’. Though Sarah Butler (I Spit On Your Grave) receives top-billing, she has a very small onscreen presence. In all fairness to the actors, however, Blake’s characters are all underwritten, which is a problem for what was intended to be a more psychologically-rooted horror movie.
All Light Will End Doesn’t End Soon Enough
Good ideas don’t necessarily translate into good movies. Neither do good intentions. All Light Will End’s beginning and end, along with the promise each showed, save the movie from an F-rating. But just barely. This is a boring effort that’s riddled with gaps in logic and wooden performances. Currently, Netflix isn’t offering too much new for horror fans. Nevertheless, I would suggest that you’d be better served by re-watching quality indie horror like Hush or Green Room than enduring All Light Will End.
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