Tidy, conventional horror stories are all about cause and effect. The scariness derives from not understanding what’s happening, and the resolution lies in discovering the causes.
With its ghosts, its spooky old house, and the story’s roots in the past sins of a town’s founders, director Lluís Quílez’s Out of the Dark is a horror film as uninterested in rocking that boat
as a new hire at an investment bank.
Sarah and Paul (Julia Stiles and Scott Speedman) move to Santa Clara, Colombia, with their adorable daughter Hannah, as Sarah is joining the executive staff at her father’s company. They settle in to a great big house during the “Festival of the Saint’s Children” — a joyous celebration of some kids who once got kidnapped and died in a fire. The family gradually becomes aware of a supernatural presence in the house through an escalating series of familiar, spooky tropes: bad dreams, wet footprints appearing on the stairs, short li’l shadows popping up in the windows.
Through a combination of a Woodward-and-Bernstein paper chase and some Amazonian canoeing, the couple learns that these aren’t the ghosts of the burned children; they’re the ghosts of kids who died of mercury poisoning due to the irresponsibility of the paper mill owned by Sarah’s father, a cranky old man who’s forgotten the true meaning of the Festival of the Dead Children. Stylishly filmed and often scary, Out of the Dark unspools a conclusion as conventional and button-down as a wide tie knot and a pair of wingtips.