Friday, December 17, 2010

"And Soon the Darkness" routine but tense enough


And Soon the Darkness (2010) 
91 min., rated R.
Grade: C +

And soon American girls will learn not to travel, but not soon enough, in "And Soon the Darkness," a routinely watchable babes-in-torture-chains thriller based on the 1970 British film with the same moniker. Despite its unpleasant opening and sleazy plot points about American sex slaves, it looks like "Hostel," "Turistas," and the rest but it's not really a slasher gorefest. Nor is it "The Lady Vanishes." Amber Heard and Odette Yustman are Steph and Ellie, one blonde and responsible, the other brunette and playful, are on vacation in Argentina. But after their last night at a bar, they wake up late and miss their bus. So they go to a place that sounds relaxing and Ellie goes missing. She's abducted, but the cop and locals can't help Steph, so she enlists the aid of a stranger (Karl Urban) to locate Ellie before night falls. 

After a long setup and perfunctory attempts at character development, "And Soon the Darkness" works up a decent head of steam. Heard and Yustman are tough and Urban is a suitably mysterious red herring. Mostly trading for clich├ęs and exploitation, director Marcos Efron manages some suspense and satisfying thrills in this harsh, competent xenophobic thriller. 

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