Most tragedies are preventable, but for Cora Loewen the burden is worse for knowing the responsibility is hers alone, awoken from a drugged stupor at the home of her dealer and asked whether she knew the whereabouts of her young son Noah; seven years later, he has still never been found, and while she has cleaned herself up Cora has never been able to forgive herself for losing sight of the only good thing that ever happened to her.
Attending a bereavement support group, the members sharing their pain in hopes of finding some measure of healing, Cora is too far gone, lost in her grief and unsure what she is supposed to be or to feel, knowing there will be no answers and no closure until Abel Turner tells her that he was able to see his daughter again after she drowned, and that Cora can see Noah again if she joins him in a ritual, obeying every instruction faithfully and without deviation.
Knowing that the promise is impossible yet unable to turn down any hope no matter how insane, Anna Camp is Cora, a damaged woman accustomed to hardship but nobody’s fool, living in rural Mississippi where dead trees, barren fields and flooded plains offer no comfort or possibility in change, the end of the road a place of desperate people in director Thomas Marchese’s From Black, a bleak and brooding summoning co-written with Jessub Flower.
Her scepticism evaporating with her first overwhelming experience in the circle of salt and candles, Cora’s initial doubts about what she has been told by Abel (John Ales) are instead replaced by the trepidation of what is to come, pushing through a punishing regime of physical and mental purifications to invoke and channel dark powers, cautioned by him that what they seek will not be gifted to them.
Unfolding in fragments and flashbacks as shattered as Cora’s broken life played out against a soundtrack which resembles straining cords being wound ever tighter to breaking point, she is slowly granted visions which offer glimpses of the past, inevitably a sacrifice is to be offered in trade if they are to break through tragedy to the sunshine beyond, and trying to keep an open mind while investigating the aftermath is the stern but conscientious Sergeant Alison Bray (Jennifer Lafleur).
The police officer who failed to find Noah and who has never let herself forget him, she is genuine in her desire to help, an act of penance to ease her conscience for not intervening earlier as she tries to comfort Cora, hoping that the knowledge that she is heard might help her break through the trauma of witnessing what has manifested From Black, a film which undeniably echoes A Dark Song but goes deeper and bloodier with the wounds it opens.
From Black will be available on Shudder from Friday 28th April