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1 review, 28 user ratings

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Straight Into Darkness
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by Scott Weinberg

"War IS Hell....regardless of which flag you wear on your uniform."
4 stars

When someone sees upwards of 400 movies a year, it's tough to find many that throw them for a total loop. Jeff Burr's 'Straight Into Darkness' starts out like a straight war flick, almost turns into a horror movie, slowly becomes a moving piece of drama, and spits you out on the other side both impressed with the end product...and more than a little shaken.

If you took a look at filmmaker Jeff Burr's filmography, you'd notice a clear theme: he's directed stuff like Stepfather 2, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3, Pumpkinhead 2, Puppet Master 4 AND Puppet Master 5! Clearly Mr. Burr knows how to deliver a product when he's given very little money to work with - because, dig those sequels or not - they've all turned a pretty penny over the years.

So what one takes away from Straight Into Darkness is simply this: Jeff Burr has most likely spent the better part of his 20+ year career making movies for other that one day he'd have the ability to make a movie or two for himself. And if you go into his latest film with visions of Pumpkinheads and Killer Puppets dancing through your head, you're in for a shock.

The good kind.

Because Straight Into Darkness is a damn solid war movie, an anti-violence parable that uses blood, bullets, gore & grimness to make its point loud and clear. It's a movie that clearly has a glowering disdain for our society's preoccupation with wholesale slaughter and mindless warmongering, yet the film doesn't preach or pander or hawk its wares in blatant fashion

Straight Into Darkness opens as two disgraced Americans are being arrested after some particularly nasty war crimes. On their way to a court martial, their Jeep hits a land-mine (sparking off a truly harrowing sequence in which several MPs are blasted to kingdom come) and the pair manage to escape into the dank wasteland of war-torn Europe.

After avoiding a desperate German brigade, Losey (Ryan Francis) and Deming (Scott MacDonald) come across a shellshocked schoolhouse and a collection of feral children. Given that Deming is a horribly violent criminal and Losey is not really all that much of a soldier, the kids and the fugitives quickly find themselves reluctant allies when those pesky Germans show up and start snooping around.

Reminiscient of Keith Gordon's fantastic A Midnight Clear mixed with a healthy dose of Rod Serlingism, Straight Into Darkness is a dark and stark little tale. The wind-blasted Romanian locations offer an unsettling palette, the violence is extreme and unapologetically effective and, despite what was clearly a rather limited budget, the movie offers a memorably mesmerizing visual experience as well. Which just goes to show what you can accomplish when you have more passion and creativity than you do blank checks to throw around.

So if this director has spent 20 years as a low-budget gun-for-hire because he loves making movies, how hopeful do you think he is that 'Straight Into Darkness' represents a big departure? Well, I may be only one guy, but I know my flicks, and I know sincere and heartfelt artistry when I see it. That stuff is slathered all over 'Straight Into Darkness'.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 03/19/04 10:42:05
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2004 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Fantasia Festival For more in the 2005 Fantasia Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/16/12 Cavaletti Instant classic for me!!!! 5 stars
6/13/10 The Stick that Slaps Very good; oddly moving too... 4 stars
7/27/09 Chaz Stevens Weird.... in a good way. 4 stars
7/20/09 hellonastrat Visually breahtaking & thought provoking. 4 stars
5/12/09 jef a movie for a change I kept me waching. until the end 4 stars
12/06/08 cleetus van damme boring and almost pointless - we all know war is bad already 2 stars
5/15/08 doug spicer it sucks 1 stars
7/20/07 Terje Larsen Low budget and unbelievable story and plot. 1 stars
11/23/06 Wendell O Maness I love gay and lesbian films, loved this one! 5 stars
11/04/06 darryl ross Agreed.The director took too many short-cuts to make his vision celluloid.Almost great. 4 stars
10/14/06 Carol Preston Best movie I've seen in YEARS. 5 stars
9/04/06 Wendell O. Maness Gay/Lesbian films are very uplifting to me, I enjoyed it greatly 5 stars
7/15/06 Rome Great movie, Had a tear in my eye at end 5 stars
7/06/06 GK Excellent. A departure from the typical big budget hollywood stuff. 5 stars
6/17/06 Julie from Dallas Most Excellent Movie, very touching! 5 stars
6/13/06 Elizabeth I don't watch war movies but I thought this movie was excellent. 5 stars
6/10/06 john the efilmcritic must have watched another film 1 stars
2/11/06 Wendell Maness I like gay movies, thought this was wonderfull 5 stars
10/30/05 leffi Historical inaccurate, can someone tell me what kind of tank that was supposed to be 1 stars
9/05/05 Alfred kids kill soldiers like this? 2 stars
6/08/05 movie mikey ja well no fine. 4 stars
2/17/05 Rafael Ochoa very god, 4 stars
1/27/05 cynthia Maness Excellent movie best acting I have ever seen 5 stars
3/25/04 Amy Mack Intense and moving, terrific filmaking 5 stars
3/25/04 Brian McCabe A real indie find! 5 stars
3/22/04 Bingo was his name-o Really bad dialogue ruins a great look. 2 stars
3/20/04 Randi Jones "I love this's beautiful and breathtaking.....two thumbs up! 5 stars
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  DVD: 06-Jun-2006



Directed by
  Jeff Burr

Written by
  Jeff Burr

  Ryan Francis
  Scott MacDonald
  James LeGros
  Linda Thorson
  Daniel Roebuck
  David Warner

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