Horror of Horrors: Dark City
While I was a pitiful teenager and 20-something year old that couldn’t make it through The Grudge and then spent an entire week sleeping on the couch next to my parent’s bedroom after watching The Ring, I am proud to admit that I have become much more tolerant of horror movies these days, and in particular I seek out zombie-filled flicks for a good scare. But when I think back to my poor overly imaginative and terrorized young mind, there are certain films that I remember with fondness for their horror and macabre imagery. One such film that I wanted to spotlight for all my faithful followers this week is Dark City, a 1998 dark movie that I was surprised was listed as a neo-noir science fiction rather than outright horror. It’s quite a beautiful disaster of a film in my opinion, so continue on for more of my thoughts on this masterpiece (spoilers to follow).
To set the scene for this eerie film, we wake along side John Murdoch, a poor man suffering from amnesia that comes to his senses in a hotel bathtub only to find a brutally murdered female corpse alongside a bloodied knife. A phone call from a mysteriously sexy voice (Keifer Sutherland) startles John to flee the scene just in time before a group of “strangers” can apprehend him.
As Murdoch continues to attempt escape from prosecution, he is able to see the city he is trapped in under a new (absence of) light. The city is always dark. The “strangers” are an alien-humanoid like species that can control time and people. Every night at midnight they stop time and all the people in the city (except Murdoch) go in to a comatose like state where they are rearranged as puppets by the “strangers” to a new destiny. But Murdoch also realizes he is a rare human individual with telekinetic powers, helping him evade his pursuers and learn more about the city everyone seems trapped in.
I know I mentioned I was a pathetic weakling when it came to horror movies in my past, but the “strangers” really terrified me. They were malicious, repulsive, and conniving. Their pale skin and baldheads remind me of Hellraiser and I always get a chill down my spine when they smirk. Of course, their hair-raising capabilities seem justified as eventually we meet Dr. Schreber (played by Sutherland) and he reveals their true identity: they are a parasitic alien species with a collective consciousness studying humans to see if they can be a proper corpse host for them in the future. Their names that they give their individual corpses are simplistic and yet terrifying at the same time, like Mr. Hand, and Mr. Book. While they were probably not intended to be so fear inspiring, these are badass aliens seem more like phantoms and ghouls than aliens.
Eventually it also comes to light that part of the reason the city is always dark is that it is actually a space station surrounded by a force field, their city is perpetually facing away from the sun, keeping it in darkness. Luckily for us, Murdoch is able to get all badass Jean Grey-style on the station, changing the entire environment and the angle of the station to once again face the sun after he defeats the “strangers”.
For those of you that have not been privileged enough to have seen this film, I know I just gave away a lot of it, but the artistic imagery and overall dark, chilling vibe to this movie are what really make it a great watch, which luckily is not something I can describe in words nearly as well as the film makers can depict on screen. There is also an entire love story featuring the gorgeous Jennifer Connelly that I have left out of this post, giving you another reason to indulge in this film. So you could call this a suggestions post in its own way, though the fact that it still makes me a little scared, bringing back my childhood memories of being impressed and terrified by this film at the same time, led me to spotlight it as a horrors post for you all. Enjoy geeks!
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Posted on January 16, 2014, in Features, Geekology, Horror of Horrors, Movies, Reviews and tagged Aliens, Dark City, darkness, Horror Movies, Horror of Horrors, movie, parasites, Science fiction. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.