Joy, a survivor of an abusive relationship, joins her friend Carmen and her therapy group on an isolated weekend retreat in the Canadian Rockies. Led by the enigmatic Dr. Dunnley, whose methods are experimental and, at times, dubious from Joy’s outside perspective, the experience eventually shatters the border between reality and delusion. Joy begins to suspect that they are being stalked by her abuser, when in truth, the entire group will be forced to confront a monstrous entity more terrifying than the ghosts of their pasts.
For in-depth thoughts on Dark Nature, please see my colleague Mike Vaughn’s review from its original festival debut here.
Dark Nature makes its Blu-Ray debut with a mighty fine 1080p video presentation that showcases these rural locations well. The film takes place primarily in brightly lit expanses of nature, but there is a fair amount of footage at night or in shadowy spaces. Highlights do not exhibit any issues with clipping, and black levels mostly impress when it comes to depth with only fleeting traces of banding in certain moments. The film employs some rich, complex colors within the natural world which are handled quite well. The presentation shows off an impressive amount of depth as our characters trek throughout the woods. The grotesque makeup effects and the fabrics of clothing provide crystal clear textural details. There are a few small areas where this disc could be improved, but overall this Blu-Ray provides a pleasing experience.
Epic Pictures continues their trend of giving their Blu-Ray a Dolby Digital 5.1 lossy audio track instead of a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track. While far from a catastrophe, it is always disappointing to know this track could likely provide greater response with a lossless track. Environmental sounds of the world permeate the surround speakers in a way that stands out. There are some unnerving ambient details when traveling through the woods which enrich the tenuous situation. The score that accompanies this journey provides a strong atmosphere that is balanced well with complex fidelity. The kinetic moments grow with the narrative, and the texture is there when it makes sense. Dialogue comes through clearly without being overshadowed by any competing sounds. The audio track accomplishes the basics of what you want it to, but it likely could have been a richer experience with a full lossless track. This disc provides English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
- Audio Commentary: Director Berkley Brady, Costume Designer Jennifer Crighton, and Special FX Makeup Designer Kyra Macpherson provide an entertaining and informative commentary track in which they discuss shooting this movie in the various environments, the background elements of the production, amusing stories from set, the collaborative nature of the production, the themes at hand and more.
- Deleted Scene: A minute-and-a-half unused scene is provided here in which the characters are trying an exercise to process their trauma. The sound seems unfinished.
- Peanut Butter Pals Short: A 23-minute short film is provided here which is positioned as a public access show airing an old hokey movie that provided some amusement.
- Ghost Keeper – “This Is How I Know You” Music Video: A five-minute music video is provided here in standard definition.
- Trailers: This disc provides the Trailer (1:45), a 30-Second Trailer and a 15-Second Trailer for Dark Nature. There are also trailers provided for other Dread titles including Colonials, Satanic Hispanics, Tomorrow Job, The Lake and Woman Of The Photographs.
Dark Nature is very focused on getting its vital themes across which can often feel a bit heavy handed when it comes to the narrative. The opening nightmare is paced very well and executed in a way in which you feel the emotional collapse of Joy. The remainder of the movie tries to live up to the high bar set by that interaction, but women on the retreat outside of Joy and Carmen can feel like grist for the mill rather than fleshed-out characters. The journey is still quite fun, but it feels a bit more clunky than you might hope when it comes to its ultimate primal scream. Epic Pictures has released a Blu-Ray featuring a pretty solid A/V presentation and a couple of fine special features. If you are open to a feminist-leaning horror movie, this one is at least worth a watch. Recommended
Dark Nature will be available to purchase on Blu-Ray on July 25, 2023.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Epic Pictures has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.