Dark Forces – review

Brief synopsis: A man stays in a creepy hotel full of peculiar characters as he searches for his missing sister. 

Is it any good?: Absolutely not. Dark Forces – original Mexican title – Fuego Nergo (Black Fire) – is almost indescribably terrible. As this is a review, I am somewhat committed to the notion of having to describe what I witnessed. This film, somehow, scored a three-point four on IMDB. Admittedly, that is a low score but it is still too high for this tripe. 

Spoiler (not really) territory: The son of a powerful and wealthy drug lord, Bernardo Arellano, has never worked a day in his life. He spends his time having lavish parties with other sons and daughters of cartels, where the drugs and the booze flow freely. 

Bernardo’s drug of choice is cocaine. He loves it. Luckily, his father loves him dearly and is always happy to give him a few keys for his grand fiestas which are the best in all of Mexico. As the girls dance around in swimwear, the boys watch movies, drink and do drugs. 

Bernardo is a massive film fan. He loves the classics – Bullitt, The Matrix, Nosferatu, anything by Tarantino or starring a peak Burt Reynolds. He also loves a good telenovela and horror films, not the good ones though, the hokey, B-movie variety. Bernardo talks to his father. He wants to make a film, he’s got ideas, things that will look amazing on the big screen. 

His father is sceptical. Bernardo has never wanted to do any kind of work but he seems passionate about this film stuff and he is his only son. He will finance his venture. Fuego Negro will become a reality. An excited Bernardo uses his father money – and fearsome name – to enlist actors, technicians, sets and all of the things required for filmmaking to make his dream a reality. 

So as to avoid any legal ramifications, I must state that everything I have written about Bernardo Arellano is pure fiction except for Fuego Negrobecoming a reality. Unfortunately.

I have no idea about Arellano’s life or upbringing or the financing of the truly awful Dark Forces but I promise you the yarn I spun in the few paragraphs above is far more entertaining than the damn film. 

Dark Forces is an abomination of a film. It has only two redeeming qualities: it is short at only eighty-one minutes long and the image quality is topnotch. That is it for the good. Everything else in the film is bad. Everything. 

Written and directed by the aforementioned Bernardo Arellano, Dark Forces is an exercise in what not to do in filmmaking. The script sounds as though it was written as the film was being made with no thought as to the impact of the previous scene. The two lead actors, Tenoch Huerta as Franco and Eréndira Ibarra as Rubí, both have extensive credits on their acting resumés. 

Not that you would think so on the strength of this trash. Huerta’s performance is so wooden it is an insult to teak. Ibarra is only slightly better, she at least getting to change costumes, even if continuity sees her putting on a white garment in the shower only to emerge in the next scene in black lace underwear. 

The makeup is a distracting farce. Bad wigs, underuse and overuse of blood and noticeable latex, the poor execution of makeup distracts from an already confusing mess. The story, such as it is, sees Huerta’s Franco looking for his sister, Sonia – the actress’ name is not listed in IMDB credits. She probably asked to be omitted – in a seedy hotel. 

In the hotel, he encounters various characters all of whom seem to know that he is looking for his sister. We never find out why he is looking for his sister or anything about her. He rescues, well helps her back to her apartment, Rubí, after she has been abused by some guy who you really do not care about. We do not find out why he was abusing her. 

She asks Franco to check her foot, which he does as though it is not only a normal request but a perfectly acceptable one from a strange woman. She is then attracted to him, touching his hand and leaving a blood spot on it. Somehow, this becomes a massive stain of blood, which Franco rubs all over his face back in his own apartment. 

Franco has dreams of a vampiric figure – Nosferatu references – coming to attacking him as he sleeps. There is a slimy, eel-like creature that inhabits another character, Jack (Dale Carley), escaping out through his mouth and into Franco’s mouth. I guess they couldn’t afford the Alien effect or Arellano has never seen the film. 

There is a seventies, Bond-fantasy fight scene, where various women individually attack Franco. It is rubbish. I have seen better fight choreography on TikTok. Roger Moore’s geriatric karate in Octopussy was better. Nothing in this film makes sense. 

It is as though Arellano filmed a load of loose ideas, edited them in a random order and then tacked on a sister rescue at the end. It is billed as a horror, action and mystery film but is free of any horror unless one counts bad vein makeup and blood as horror. It also has very little action except for the bad fight scenes and a random shootout with an escapee from a telenovela ranch. There is mystery and the mystery is how this film got made or financed. 

Dark Forces is eighty minutes of your life you will never get back and even in the lockdown, it is not worth your time. One would be better off watching already dry paint drying, for eighty minutes, than watching Dark Forces. Avoid and anti-socially distance as far as possible from this film. Terrible.

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