⭐️⭐️1/2 out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Intensity grade: 🩸🩸🩸 out of 🩸🩸🩸🩸🩸 From the writer/director of Nati Morti (2022) comes horror straight out of an Albanian bunker!
Written/Directed by Alex Visani
File this under the Don’t-Screw-Over-Your-Friends category, we’ve got a brand new film from Nati Morti (2022) auteur, Alex Visani, and it’s making some noise on the festival circuit right now.
Blades in the Darkness tells the tale of four friends; three eagerly entrepreneurial young folks smuggling wads of cash into Tirana, Albania with dreams of starting up a chic new restaurant housed in an old war-era bunker on the edge of the capital city and one desperate soul trying to make things right with the local mafia boss by any means necessary.
As luck would have it, both groups — mafiosos and capitalistic idealists — have picked the wrong bunker to disturb.
With flavors reminiscent of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre mixed with a heavy dose of Deep Fear (2022), Blades in the Darkness follows a well-trodden path, but follows it well. Especially from a technical standpoint.
As a (most likely) fairly low-budget film, Visani manages to squeeze every drop of quality possible out of each and every Albanian Lek spent on this film. Regardless of the shooting conditions — inside, outside, buried in a concrete bunker, at a busy restaurant — the quality of the visuals and, most impressively, the quality of the sound never waver. Kudos to Daniele Marinelli who, apparently, was the entire sound department!
Special effects are unobtrusive and extremely well done. Most appear to be practical effects which is always appreciated and they’re embellished by some tasteful CGI here and there. Without giving out any spoilers, the CG sequence at the finale with its call-back to the origin story of the villain was particularly well executed.
Getting down to the nitty and the gritty, the viewer really only gets invested in two maybe three of the four main protagonists. Everyone else — “extra” protagonists, mafiosos, characters serving as a tenuous bridge between the two groups — is cannon fodder. While it’s fun to watch the Bad Guy go to town on all the redshirts, it doesn’t mean much story-wise. Not that it’s a bad thing, of course, but it’s always nice when everything moves in service to The Story.
Overall, Blades in the Darkness is a solid entry in the bunker-centric, bad-guys-who-don’t-know-the-war’s-over sub-genre. Most importantly, it cements Alex Visani’s level of technical prowess and makes it clear once again that Visani is a creative force to keep an eye on in the future.