It’s been two months since the sun failed to rise and the world fell apart, two months of questions with no answers and survivors huddled in the shadows, trying to make their dwindling supplies last. It was the following day that they arrived and began hunting, spindly insectoids drawn to sources of light. River Kern has one in his basement: the creature in the dark.
With communications down they can’t know who else is out there, if there is a semblance government trying to find an explanation and organise a rescue or if everyone must look out for themselves, so River waits in his apartment building, sharing tinned food with his infant daughter Mya, scanning the radio, listening for movement which might be an intruder looking for food or someone carrying the disease.
He’s making do. He doesn’t have a plan. He’s not accustomed to defending himself, to wielding a knife or carrying a gun, but he has learned. His wife Emma was the one who had all the answers, and she never came home from the shift she was working on the night which never ended. Instead, no matter what he is feeling, River must continue to act normal for the sake of Mya, to survive for her sake.
A minimalist, claustrophobic horror set almost entirely in the dark in a single location, writer/director Jacob Perrett’s Creature in the Dark is a heavy burden carried on the shoulders of Taylor Rhoades, barely coping with the immediate needs of caring for his daughter and with nobody to turn to in his isolation, the film a prescient allegory of our times.
With echoes of Right At Your Door, the world outside is an unseen terror and any deviation from routine might represent a threat; the dread is low key but omnipresent, yet despite the constant gloom Perrett varies the scant sources of light from the harsh fluorescent light River carries when foraging to provide constantly shifting illumination, candlelight, Christmas lights, the television screen, the reflections which ripple across River’s face as he bathes Mya.
Creature in the Dark made with no budget, it is appropriately about people who have nothing left who have to make do with what they have, a sparse endeavour stitched out of desperation and hope only a breath away from despair and panic which questions which might be more terrifying, to believe that you are alone, or to suddenly think that you might not be?