Dark Windows Does Too Little, Too Late With Its Familiar Premise

As summer winds down, we find ourselves stuck in between the last handful late summer horror releases in theaters and what’s inevitably coming around the corner for the fall season. We have a bit to wait before the big Halloween contenders like The Exorcist: Believer and the next Saw installment hit the cineplexes. But a handful of new horror releases made their way to streaming and VOD platforms including Bad Things and director Alex Herron’s latest release – Dark Windows. Promising a mix of revenge and home invasion thriller, Dark Windows hasn’t made much of impact so far on critics.


A tragic car accident leaves three teenagers – Tilly, Monica, and Peter – grief-stricken and wracked with guilt when their friend, Allison, doesn’t survive. At the funeral, Allison’s family and boyfriend clearly harbor resentment towards the teens. To deal with the loss and guilt, Monica recommends the three friends spend a weekend getaway at her grandparents’ summer home. As each friends finds their own way to cope with their emotions, a masked intruder shows up at the house intending exact their own brand of punishment.

Dark Windows Teases a Different, More Thoughtful Direction, Before Taking the Road Well-Travelled

After the prologue teases a familiar mix of revenge and home invasion thriller, director Alex Herron (Leave) abruptly shifts gears. What follows is an interesting contrast hinting that Dark Windows may do something different. On one hand, Herron and writer Ulvrik Kraft clearly borrow from familiar revenge-themed slashers like I Know What You Did Last Summer and Prom Night. There’s clearly more to the accident that sends the story in motion – our teen protagonists are hiding something. And the early funeral scene dangles a handful of red herrings for the thriller’s second act. As Randy from Scream would say, ‘There’s a formula … a very simple formula”. And when the story shifts to a house in a remote location where cell phone signals come and go, it certainly feels like Herron and Kraft are following that formula.

Briefly, it almost feels like this thriller will go in a very different direction. Until it doesn’t.

But Dark Windows spends its first act in a more meditative mood. Much of the first 30 minutes or so focuses on the three characters findings their own ways to deal with their grief and guilt. While Tilly (Anna Bullard) freely admits her fault in the accident, Peter (Rory Alexander) drowns his feelings in alcohol. And Monica (Annie Hamilton) thinks having a fun weekend will allow the trio to move forward. There’s a surprising amount of attention paid to the characters and their relationships with one another. As a result, Dark Windows has a bit more emotional depth than one might have expected. Briefly, it almost feels like this thriller will go in a very different direction. Until it doesn’t.

Dark Windows Spins Its Wheels for Too Long Before Delivering Too Little

Two problems quickly emerge for Dark Windows after its promising first act. Herron fails to build any sort of momentum over the course of his thriller. Too little happens for far too long. Though Herron and Kraft borrow some slasher tropes, this is never a slasher movie. There’s no body count, jolts, or suspense to fill the thriller’s middle act. Instead, Dark Windows feels like it’s navel-gazing while it waits for the inevitable home invasion it teases. What really hurts is the fact that Herron does eventually take the movie where you assumed it would go. But the lack of significant buildup leaves things feelings aimless even at just a trim 80 minutes.

Yet it’s also abrupt and underwhelming when compared to other home invasion and revenge thrillers.

Once Dark Windows finally ratchets up its action and delivers on what it promised, Herron mostly delivers on a tense standoff. That is, the confrontation between the masked assailant and guilty teens generates some unease particularly since we’ve spent a fair amount of time with the characters. Yet it’s also abrupt and underwhelming when compared to other home invasion and revenge thrillers. Nothing here will likely shock most seasoned horror fans. And the killer’s reveal fails to make much of impact. So little time was spent introducing the red herrings that when the mask comes off it feels somewhat perfunctory.

Dark Windows Squanders Promising First Act With a Dull, Rote Revenge Thriller

Ultimately, Dark Windows little that we’ve haven’t seen done before in better movies. In spite of a promising first act that opted for a quiet character study in place of slasher shocks, Herron lets his thriller spin its wheels for too long. What the third act delivers ratchets up the tension, but it’s too little, too late. Moreover, the killer reveal falls flat and the finale underwhelms. Neither a true slasher nor a compelling revenge thriller, Dark Windows is short and decent enough to watch to the end. But you’re not likely going to remember it after the credits finish rolling.


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I am a Criminology professor in Canada but I've always had a passion for horror films. Over the years I've slowly begun incorporating my interest in the horror genre into my research. After years of saying I wanted to write more about horror I have finally decided to create my own blog where I can share some of my passion and insights into the films I love.

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