Sundance 2021: COMING HOME IN THE DARK is Your Next Cult Classic

New Zealand actor turned director James Ashcroft unleashed his stunning debut Coming Home in the Dark this weekend at the Sundance Film Festival, and to be honest it could easily end up being one of the best genre films of the year. The film is a relentless thriller that starts out simple enough, when a family out for a hike in the gorgeous New Zealand wilderness are happened upon by two nefarious drifters.

What starts out as a simple robbery turns into something much more, when one of the drifters recognizes the Dutch patriarch of the family and takes him and his Māori wife hostage. From there we as the audience is fed bits and pieces of the backstory, in an attempt to put together “the why”, and it’s downright masterful how this plays out. Powerfully acted and flawlessly executed there’s not a second wasted in the tense 93 minutes runtime as Dark guides us through this night of captivity.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I sat down. But I was instantly transfixed as the story slowly pulls into focus and the film doesn’t pull a single punch in showing that absolutely no one is safe. This is easily as much a product of Ashcroft’s vision, as it is his ensemble of captors and captives who turn in moving and densely layered performances — charged with dissecting class, race and colonization. Without giving too much away, Coming Home in the Dark is both brutal and emotionally satisfying in its final resolution, as Ashcroft fashions his narrative into a stark look at the affects of trauma and abuse.

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