The Independent Critic – “The Darkness Within” a Solid Psychological Horror/Thriller

The Darkness Within is truly one of those rare indie suspense/thrillers that really works with an ending that is quite the stunner.

— © Written by Richard Propes - The Independent Critic

If there’s one thing we learn for sure from writer/director Dom Portalla’s suspense/thriller The Darkness Within, it’s that Portalla can write one heck of a suspenseful and involving story. While the film occasionally is hindered by spotty acting and those inevitable production issues that show up with micro-budgeted films, The Darkness Within is truly one of those rare indie suspense/thrillers that really works with an ending that is quite the stunner. Chad (Jimmy Scanlon) and Ashley (Michelle Romano) are an engaged couple who move into a basement apartment in a working class neighborhood. They start off looking like an interesting couple, Chad a bit of a geeky videographer and Ashley a major hottie who works as a bartender at a nearby establishment. While something doesn’t feel quite right pretty straight up, the two go about their business of fixing up their place and adjusting to the new digs despite a weirdo neighbor named Mr. Reed (Ken Flott) whose eerie presence may include a bit of peeping. Then, there’s the landlord’s daughter (Stephanie Maheu) who draws Chad into a bit of drinking. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, before long we learn that this isn’t exactly a new behavior from Chad.

Then, we learn that Ashley has her own secrets.

Before long, it seems like Chad’s existence is unraveling if he doesn’t unlock the truth behind his mysterious neighbor.

The Darkness Within isn’t flawless, but it definitely held my attention and it’s story is compelling and layered like you want your suspense thrillers to be. The film certainly has Hitchcockian tones to it, but time and again the influence from The Shining was most loud and proud – not just in scenes that will bring the latter film to mind but also in tone, atmosphere and Portalla’s lensing and even the music from Danielle Samson and Mirza Causevic. The film certainly has Hitchcockian tones to it, but time and again the influence from The Shining was most loud and proud – not just in scenes that will bring the latter film to mind but also in tone, atmosphere and Portalla’s lensing and even the music from Danielle Samson and Mirza Causevic.

As noted, the performances are just a tad spotty with the lesser roles, in particular, occasionally being jarring enough to disturb the mood. Generally, the leads are strong with Scanlon making for a sympathetic character even as his character’s sense of reality begins to disintegrate. As the neighbor, Ken Flott adds multiple layers that will keep you involved in the character and not ever really knowing exactly where he’s coming from the entire time.

The Darkness Within is now available on home video and has a wealth of extras to go along with it that should hold your interest including production company Door Eleven’s short films. If you’re looking for an up-and-coming indie director with a unique vision and solid artistic integrity, Dom Portalla’s a great choice for your support.