“From Black” is a too-familiar take on the conventional occult genre story. There’s very little here that feels fresh or out of the ordinary, and the end result is a hackneyed crime thriller turned demon horror movie that will please no one. It isn’t scary and is way too serious, Thomas Marchese‘s direction is merely passable, and Luigi Janssen‘s score booms with such a considerable amount of in-your-face belligerence that it becomes laughable before the end of the opening credits (it’s so jarring that it feels like a “Saturday Night Live” spoof of what a horror movie is “supposed” to sound like).
Cora (Anna Camp) is a recovering drug addict who has never found closure for her grief and trauma she sustained after her young son Noah disappeared. Saddled with crushing guilt, she is approached by Abel (John Ales), a man in her recovery group who claims he can help her bring back the boy if she agrees to participate in a special ritual. Cora agrees to what will no doubt be a terrible idea, conjuring a demon in the process.
The story (co-written by Marchese and Jessub Flower) is dull and predictable. The first part of the film feels like a really bad episode of “True Detective,” with flashbacks of a blood-soaked crime scene and unsettling visuals like a child’s shoe abandoned in a field. There is an unexpected amount of character depth in the script, which is ultimately squandered in favor of spooky occult rituals and grotesque monsters. The biggest and most pleasant surprise is that the performances aren’t bargain-basement terrible, even though the story teeters right on the edge.
“From Black” feels like more of a failure than it actually is, probably because it’s just so routine. Even if you’ve never seen a horror movie, you know that you never, ever agree to summon anything in order to bring back a dead loved one.
By: Louisa Moore