Dird by Gregory Connors
Australia/2010 - 97 Minutes/Fullscreen
DVD Provided by Cinema Epoch
Review by Mark Engle

Imagine waking up in a very sterile white room. Before focusing on anything, a shower comes out of the floor across the room about fifty feet from the bed you are lying in. You have no idea how you got there or where you are. You get up, feeling grungy, venture into the shower, turn the water on and bask in the heat while trying to wake up. Feeling somewhat better, you step out of the shower only to be greeted by a group of Mercenaries blowing away a zombie/demonic-like horde that have just invaded your mystery room. This is where THE DARK LURKING begins, and the terror for our leading lady Lena is that she might be spending her last 97 minutes alive. From here on out, the gore meter and action is set on high with Gregory Connors low budget independent science fiction/action thriller from Australia.

Now, the Australians don't exactly have the best track record when it comes to genre films and that is for good reason. For every dozen or so pieces of junk that hit the DVD shelves, a decent one arrives. Not since MAD MAX or THE ROAD WARRIOR has there really truly been a horror or SciFi modern classic to hit the U.S. shores (or any mainland for that matter). Sure, there's been some fun stuff in the mix and I'm a big fan of UNDEAD and its zombie weirdness, but for the most part, many have induced yawns or guffaws. So where does THE DARK LURKING fit into this quagmire of DVD titles? Well, let's just say it's a mixed bag where the good outshines the bad and that's a damn good start.

There's definitely nothing new in the set up. We get several people and some trapped Mercs in an underground science lab several floors beneath the surface of an unknown planet. Much like the RESIDENT EVIL franchise, the rest of the personnel have turned into mutating creatures from some unknown source. In order to make it out alive, our survivors have to battle their way to a control room and try and get in touch with someone, anyone, to get their butts rescued. Once there, they discover a high level scientist and a group of computers. But all the computers need a reboot and the master controls are on the surface. Two of the survivors make their way up via the ventilation shafts, but only one makes it back (several of our group have met very gory deaths up to this point by the way).

If you've made it this far, about an hour in, and feel the urge to turn it off, just don't. Up until now, there are lots of problems. The acting is pretty rough with some very annoying characters. The dialogue doesn't help matters, having some very clichéd lines that are overacted to the point of taking you right out of the movie. Our director, editor, and cameraman use fast pace editing and close-ups to an extreme level, making the atmosphere and violence so jarred and choppy you would think it was to hide the budget restraints, but I can't buy that when it's being done during fast talking dialogue scenes as well. Besides, the monster makeup and effects look fantastic and so do the sets, especially considering the budget. With all of this, plus the fact that I felt like I was watching a low income version of DOOM with less plot, if I wasn't reviewing the title in question or a diehard gore fan, I would have probably turned it off. That would have been a shame.

The last half hour is a non-stop barrage of violence, action, and mayhem, and it comes with a story twist and background that completely rules. The reasons why they are there, who some of the characters are and why our mutated humans keep getting more demonic-like as the movie unfolds, is rather creepy and, might I say, epic in scope. Seriously, give these guys a budget, better actors, and tell them to run with the true story behind the last half of THE DARK LURKING as a sequel and you've got one hell of a movie that will be remembered for a very long time. Yes, the final third is that good. So good, I didn't notice any bad acting, even though the same people were there (well, some of the worst get the ax early on and I mean that literally). The multiple close-ups seemed as if they disappeared and the editing and camerawork smoothed out. It was almost as if director Gregory Connors and his crew finally got the confidence they needed to finish the movie the way they truly envisioned it. And it gets even gorier than the first half, which is hard to believe. I wish I could say more about this final half hour, but spoilers permit me not to do so, despite the fact that I think there's an entire movie worth of material in such a short running time of thirty or so minutes.

Cinema Epoch gives us a decent transfer with clear visuals. We just had a check disc for review and it did show some artifacting in the blacks during the darker scenes. Extras include a truly bizarre short film about Angel Gabriel refusing to throw a fight for God in the NETHERWORLD and ending up in Limbo for a thousand years only to be rescued by Satan with an agreement to battle the angels as if he was in PULP FICTION. Lots of demons and gunplay from the same folks. Also on hand is a trailer along with a good half hour’s worth of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews that are interesting. Yes, thankfully, the spacecrafts were actual models and not low budget CGI. Yes, thankfully, the gore isn't cheap CGI but actual prosthetics and costumes. Good Old School GORE and that's the way it should be. Real Squibs, real latex, lots of fake blood, intestines, exploding heads, gouges, skin ripping, deep wounds and bloody bullet holes! Can I have an “Amen,” my FX loving brothers? I thought so. Get past the acting and other production problems and support this movie for what it stands for. It's far from perfect, but considering its budget and background, I can forgive quite a bit (well, maybe not the ax lady because I wanted to jump onto the set and kill her myself) and sit back and enjoy its slimy goodness