Coming Home in the Dark

Coming Home in the Dark ★★★★

James Ashcroft's debut is terrifyingly powerful, an exploitation nightmare that pummels you in every direction, letting you sink into blood-caked despair with shotgun blasts welcoming you to hell.

A family on a road trip throughout the countryside of New Zealand are approached by two sketchy looking men while having a picnic.
It's the kind of walk-up from two scruffy strangers that you immediately feel in the back of your neck; a sharp tension locks in as you then try to maintain calm amongst your family and these troubling individuals. Little do they know that tension will soon turn into adrenalized agony as this painful journey comes to its nihilistic end.

Beautifully shot with a tasteful minimal score and yet this is one ugly thrill-ride. Not for the faint of heart or fragile of mind. A complicated narrative is slowly peeled back over the course of a chaotic kidnapping, bolstered by committed performances that ground every disturbing turn. The violence is horrific but not a drop of camp is in sight, just austere torment draping a riveting plot. Comparisons to Eden Lake come to mind, but even then I'm selling the legitimately provocative elements short. This feels firmly in that exquisite intersection of exploitation and drama, encompassing the powerful brutality and gritty substance that comes from both of those worlds.
Not an easy watch but an astonishing one, especially considering this is Ashcroft's debut and it comes fully cooked in every way imaginable. Can't wait to see what he does next.

"Now later when you look back on this occasion... I think right there is when you're going to wish you did something."

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