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Chasing Darkness (2007)

Chasing Darkness


Chasing Darkness is yet another no-budget film out of Pennsylvania, the unofficial home state of the amateur horror genre.  Written and directed by Jason Hull, Chasing Darkness is a cross between a vampire movie and a gangster movie.  Vinnie (played by Todd Humes) is a tough guy gangster who's become fed up with the "family" he works for and wants to move on.  One of the last jobs he was assigned was to take out a member of a rival gang, which his gang doesn't realize, is actually a family of vampires.  Vinnie's boss and co-workers aren't very happy with him and the rival gang of vampires is out to get him.  Fortunately, he has some old friends that he can rely on when it comes time to kick some ass.

Todd Humes (Vinnie) not only starred in the film, but also collaborated with Curtis Chaney on most of the fight choreography.  Todd's acting actually wasn't bad for this kind of movie and the fight scenes were better than most of the no-budget films that I've seen.  Speaking of fight scenes, Chasing Darkness also stars fitness model / karate chick Renee Porada as Faith, an ex-girlfriend of Vinnie's who happens to be pretty good at kicking ass herself.  Actress Katie Russell (Stockholm Syndrome, House of Bedlam) played Ciarra, Vinnie's current girl who turns vampire.  Although Katie wasn't in the movie as much as I would have liked, she did have two of the best scenes including an awesome shot of her underground in a coffin.  The lead vampire role was portrayed by actor A.J. Leslie who appears looking like a vampire rock star throughout the film.  There is also cameo that the filmmakers make a big deal about by actor Shannon Solo as the local priest.  I'm not sure why that's a big deal, but I thought I'd mention it because maybe you'll know of him.  The acting from all of the leads was pretty good, but there were quite a few bad performances delivered for the smaller roles.  This being his first time in a film, Larry Liggett's could have used a little more direction as mob boss Dominic and several of the other performances were even worse.   On the other hand, Curtis Thomas was actually pretty good at the bartender.  Overall though, mainly the lead roles were well done.

I think one of my main problems with Chasing Darkness was with the continuity when it came to time of day.  Much of the film was supposed to take place at night, but was not only shot during the day, but it was shot during the day on a very bright day.  Even scenes in the local bar that were supposed to take place at night had bright light shining through the windows and when the door opened, it flooded the screen with bright, white light.  Outdoor night scenes were given a blue filter, but the light had been so bright that it didn't appear to be night, it just looked like day with a random blue filter.  Light issues happen all the time in films with this kind of budget, but in Chasing Darkness it's to the point that it's confusing.

Native Pennsylvania filmmaker Paul Gorman (FuryVirgin Pockets, House of Bedlam) was the editor and director of photography for Chasing Darkness and much like in his movies, there was a lot of shaky camera work going on.  However, I think he did a good job of editing the film.  As mentioned above, Curtis Chaney and Todd Humes did a good job on the fight chorography.  It wasn't like watching a big budget action movie, but it certainly was better than the fighting in most no-budget films.   There was an extremely long kiss during one of the fight scenes that I thought was random and excessive.  It actually lasted around 60 seconds (which may not sound like a long kiss, but 60 seconds of anything in a film is a log time).  The audio volumes were inconsistent, but not too bad for the most part.  I wasn't crazy about the music in the film.  There were a lot of different bands, but most of the music didn't sound very professional and much of it just wasn't very good.  I suspect that the goal of the soundtrack was to fit in all of the bands that the filmmakers knew rather than find the best music for each scene, which for a film like this, I guess is pretty cool regardless of the audio result.  The film also promoted the local Erie Brewing Company with a promo spot during the credits - which helped to explain why people were drinking so much beer throughout the film.

The vampire makeup was very well done artistically speaking, but it didn't look at all realistic.  It looked a lot like one of the photos on the packaging for a tube of Halloween makeup.  It didn't feel like you were watching vampires, it felt like you were looking at guys with paintings on their faces.  The other problem with the makeup was that it kept smearing off on the non-vampire actors, so as fight scenes would progress, large quantities of the vampires makeup would end up on the clothes of the other actors.

Overall, I'd say Chasing Darkness isn't one of the top no-budget films that I've seen, but it certainly isn't one of the worst either.  The story wasn't bad, the lead actors did a pretty good job and the fight scenes were above average.  Plus, even though the vampire makeup wasn't at all realistic looking, it was still cool.  If you are into no-budget films, this one is worth checking out.

Gore-o-meter rating: 2 out of 5
(Some blood and gore, but not much, however lots of fighting)

Skin-o-meter: 0 out of 5 (There is a "brief nudity" warning, but I didn't notice any nudity at all)