Darkness Wakes, Charlotte Wakes (original title) or The Sitter (alternate title) is a horror movie that can’t make its mind up what it wants to be known as. Regardless of its name, Darkness Wakes is a British horror film that released in 2017. It is written, directed and produced by Simon Richardson.
The concept is simple enough, Charlotte (Aisling Knight) is a psychology student who’s looking for any work that pays. She stumbles across an ad for a job that’s enquiring about a cat sitter. It sounds too good to be true so she heads to the secluded, manor property to have an interview. While there, she meets Mr & Mrs Farrow. They come across quite eccentric but are nice enough and they are willing to pay her £200 a day to cat sit. It’s only for 3 days and it feels like a no-brainer so she accepts the job.
The first day passes in uneventful fashion. Charlotte is shown going about her daily life, doing mundane tasks. However, all the while she cannot help but feel a strange presence in the house. She hasn’t even met the cat but she hears loud noises coming from the floors above. The next night, she has a nightmarish dream that she’s being stalked by a demonic figure.
In the morning, she decides to get away from the house for a short while. While driving, she is stopped by a deranged woman who attacks her. Charlotte escapes and meets her friend Kate where she explains all of the strange happenings. Kate goes back to the house with Charlotte but eventually leaves her alone again. From there, it soon becomes clear that a horrific, supernatural beast is praying upon Charlotte. It’s heavily suggested throughout that there is a sexual nature to the attacks. That’s until it becomes abundantly clear that sexually assaulting Charlotte is the primary motivation of the creature. Through sex it becomes more and more bonded to her, figuratively and literally.
Will Charlotte escape the clutches of the beast? Watch Darkness Wakes to find out.
Darkness Wakes took me by complete surprise. I cannot deny that I went into watching it with low expectations. Thankfully, it turns out that it’s a damn fine horror movie. Yes, the premise isn’t particularly original. In fact, if you were to call it predictable and like a lot of things we’ve all seen before I couldn’t argue. Still, there is a reason why this is the setup for many horror movies. It’s an effective scenario and it’s executed well in Darkness Wakes. I was immediately intrigued by the Farrows and their request for a cat sitter. This is mostly due to the excellent performances of Richard Kilgour & Jill Buchanan. They are so weird, hammy and over the top it’s hard to not find them entertaining.
This is a slow-paced horror film but that doesn’t immediately make it boring. In much of the first hour, little happens. However, I found this part of the film did well at establishing Charlotte as a likeable, relatable character. On the whole, the performances are really good and most of the dialogue feels natural.
There is certainly a creepy atmosphere that accompanies much of the film. There are not too many effects to speak of but you can tell the budget was clearly limited. The demon itself is hidden well by shadowing and clever camerawork. Unfortunately, it does resemble a cheap Halloween costume but at least it isn’t CGI.
One of the biggest strengths of Darkness Wakes is its cinematography. There are a number of visually interesting shots that are quite artistic. Considering Sex is a primary theme of the film, Charlotte has a number of scenes involving lots of nudity. It’s a key plot point that she’s an attractive woman so it doesn’t feel too exploitative. Either way, it’s there if that’s your thing.
My biggest complaints are surrounding the lack of explanation for the motivations of the Farrows and the very demon itself. Also, Charlotte accepts the role without even meeting the cat or knowing its name. I found that to be quite unrealistic but it’s quite amusing that the cat does indeed exist.
Overall, Darkness Wakes, Charlotte Wakes, The Sitter or whatever it’s called is a solid, slow-burn horror film.