In Search of Darkness is a fun horror documentary series that feels like essential viewing for anyone who watches horror movies.
Published on March 30, 2023
Rating 4.5 /5
Running well over five hours, this third part of the In Search of Darkness documentary series is the best yet. Centering on the era of the 1980s with all the innovations in horror movies, there’s a lot to discuss, and this film covers a remarkably long history. Much like the last entries, however, this is mostly a series of talking heads, ranging from horror fans to those who worked on various films. But if that’s the stuff you love listening to, this documentary plays like an oversized bag of horror love.
The best way I can describe the film is hanging out around a horror convention with those in the business and those who love gushing about their favorite slashers. You get everything from TROMA founder Lloyd Kaufman spilling the beans on having his family cast in Class of Nuk’em High to YouTuber James Rolfe showcasing his appreciation for quality horror effects. It’s not all love letters, though. There’s a frankness about the more troubled productions, the dated depictions of sexuality, and the cheapness of some video nasties. There’s a refreshing honesty in this documentary that comes from creatives and fans alike, where every voice doesn’t feel constricted to reveal all.
The film can be dissected into different bursts of five-minute vignettes to cover the most ground. The most common entries involve talking about a specific film. Interviewees will describe a horror film they obsess over and explain what makes that film so remarkable for that era. The second-most present vignette focuses on horror histories, commenting on the nature of video stores and horror movie production. These are significant bits of painting a complete picture of horror movies during that time. The third type of vignette centers around a specific horror figure, often with the figure themselves voicing their perspective on their history. A great example of this is Dee Wallace talking about her history of horror roles and the frustrations of constantly being cast as a mother in her more notable movies like E.T.
The direction and editing are strong enough to make this film feel breezy amid its five hours yet subtle enough that the graphics don’t distract. Focusing on a movie poster before venturing into the next bit makes for a smooth transition. The assembly is made with love and care, making the audience excited to see what horror film is next on the docket. It’s filmed so remarkably crafted that it will dazzle horror fans as much as it might make some new ones. Even if the down-and-dirty slashers are not your bag, plenty of horror films are addressed, including the charming horror comedy Transylvania 6-5000. How could you not adore a film where Jeff Goldblum and Ed Begley Jr cavort about in a monster-movie parody?
In Search of Darkness is a fun horror documentary series that feels like essential viewing for anyone who watches horror movies. While it might not reveal as many secrets or speak as explicitly about the behind-the-scenes aspects of the many films covered, it has the look and feel of flipping through a thick and exciting book on horror history, with the best voices on the topics chiming in. The convention analogy may be better. However you describe it, this is just a bloody fun watch.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.