In a long-abandoned hospital ward hidden within a remodeled apartment building, a scratchy Victrola turns itself on and off. Disembodied voices, muffled behind walls, scream for help or hum creepy lullabies. Elderly apparitions dance, strobe-lit, about the corridor.
One of these ghosts, who’s been stuck in the ward for years, describes the unjust rules of the afterlife: Tortured souls like him are forced to remain where they died, haunting the living, while those “at peace” go to “a better place.” This is what Sophia (Mischa Barton) and her friends encounter when they search for her boyfriend, Adam (Ryan Eggold), who disappears from bed one night and leaves behind a trail of blood. If you were in Sophia’s shoes, you’d be scared. But watching her stumble about in what looks to be a poorly lit, hastily constructed soundstage, you just wish someone would turn the lights on.
Written and directed by Mark Edwin Robinson, I Will Follow You Into the Dark certainly lives up to its title in a visual sense—the sex, courtship, and comic relief scenes are, for unclear reasons, as equally bathed in shadow as the spooky ones. Content-wise, though, it’s little more than a gooey, life-affirming parable about keeping the faith. After both her parents die in close succession, Sophia stops believing in the afterlife, and we expect the supernatural punishments that await her to mount in terror.
But the scare tactics are rather ho-hum—suffocation nightmares, disappearing necklaces, loud noises—and the ending is incongruously sentimental. You’ll be more frightened walking through a graveyard at dusk.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 9, 2013