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.

Deadcon – review (Netflix)

It is twenty-twenty and a new decade. My reviewing output has slowed of late due to a few factors – working a lot more. Christmas. Not visiting the cinema that much and, considering I generally review Netflix output, a paucity of anything that I found remotely interesting over the festive period on the streaming service.
I have watched a few things this year. The entire second season of Titans dropped and I blasted through that in a few days. Excellent. Also, the riveting Don’t F*** With Cats, a compelling three-part documentary about ordinary people tracking a psychopath after he films himself killing a cat. Though I occasionally review a season of a show, I tend to stick to films.
So, as we pass the halfway point of January, I am attempting to get back into suffering – sorry, watching – films on Netflix. To this end, I found myself watching a film that had garnered a very generous two point eight on IMDB. Deadcon is an abomination. It is seventy-eight minutes of staggering mediocrity.
The story, such as it is, begins with some god-awful scene set in 1984. John Althaus (Aaron Hendry) is holed up in his hotel room, begging his employers not to close down his computer project. He gets short shrift. He has come up with, pre-social media, a program to connect people through messaging, LinkRabbit. When a message from someone called Bobby (Judah Mackey) flashes up on his screen, John replies.
Fast forward to the present and several social media influencers are descending on ViewCon, a social media fan weekend. Ashley (Lauren Elisabeth) is a popular influencer at the event, as is Megan (Claudia Sulewski) and Mark Dohner, who plays himself. I am obviously in the wrong demographic for this film as I have no idea who Mark Dohner is. Think he is a real ‘social media influencer’.
Anyway, after a hotel room mix up, Ashley gets put in into room 2210a by the hotel manager, even as the reception staff tries to protest. The manager shoos him away. The room is refrigerator cold and looks as though it has not been redecorated since the eighties.
In the same hotel, Megan is having a clandestine meeting with another social media star, Dave, (Keith Machekanyanga), who comes to see if she has broken up with her boyfriend, Ricky. She leaves him alone in the room as she has to go to an event. At the event, Ashley is meeting and greeting her fans and taking pictures with them.
When she returns to her room, it is completely wrecked. Ashley confesses to a friend that she is seeing Dave. Ashley’s lights go out in the room. She calls reception to get the bulbs changed. The reception guy does not want to change the lights, refusing to enter the room. He gives her the bulbs. Ashley gets attacked by some invisible force.
Dave goes to see Megan again and ask her if he can film them getting amorous. She says no. He secretly films them anyway. The next day, a weird Ashley joins the convention. Her manager, Kara (Mimi Gianopulos) thinks she has been partying too much. Ashley does not have shoes on.
Megan is surprised by her boyfriend, Ricky (Lukas Gage). She immediately informs Dave that he has turned up. She leaves him in the hotel room and goes to a party. Dave is reviewing his secret filming and sees Bobby on the tape. He tries to contact Megan but her phone is in her bag.
Ricky, who is getting ready for the party, gets killed by a balloon cord. Dave investigates the little boy Bobby and finds out about John Althaus. He was suspected of kidnapping and killing several children back in 1984. He tries to contact Megan but she tells him they will talk tomorrow.
Dave goes to the hotel and tries to show Megan the film but the phone screen breaks. Megan is angry that he filmed them and refuses to leave with him. Megan falls asleep and Dave falls asleep in a chair, not wanting to leave her alone. They are both awakened by a sound. Bobby returns and they both see him. Megan gets snatched by an invisible force. Dave goes after her and is attacked by Ashley. Sometime later, the manager lets Lauren (Jordyn Yarker), another social media star into the suite. The end.
Deadcon is awful and I am being kind. The story is nonsense, it is unoriginal in both execution and premise, the acting is bad, the script is bad, it is all bad. Nothing in the film works with the complete vagueness of the story not helping at all. Bobby, who started as a name on a computer, turning out to be some random little homicidal child was stupid.
The film is seventy-eight minutes long but nobody dies until minute fifty-five and it is the completely pointless Ricky. His death also turns out to be the most gruesome in the film, the cord of a balloon garrotting him. That is as horrific as this ‘horror’ film gets. The rest of the ‘horror’ comprises of dark rooms and shadows and the damned kid appearing randomly.
Deadcon, written by Scotty Landes and directed by Caryn Waechter, is a project that I cannot understand how it got made. There is no way anyone reads the script for this and thinks it is going to work.

Somehow, one hundred thousand dollars was wasted on this tripe. Everything in this film is poor. The script is poor, the directing is poor, the sets are poor, the acting…you get my drift.
Do not watch this film. It is the first film I have watched this year and I already think it has made my top ten worst films of twenty-twenty. You have been warned.