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Shot In The Dark

average rating is 3 out of 5


William Hemingway


Posted on:

Dec 18, 2022

Film Reviews
Shot In The Dark
Directed by:
Keene McRae
Written by:
Kristoffer McMillan, Keene McRae, Lane Aikin
Kristoffer McMillan, Christine Donlon, Keene McRae

In November 1998 somewhere in small town America a killer is on the loose. People have been going missing for some time and now pieces of the most recent victims have been turning up in boxes left in parking lots and other such everyday places. Supposedly inspired by actual events, Keene McRae's film, Shot In The Dark takes this scenario and turns it into a low-key thriller, shot through with romantic overtones, which gives us a 'What If?' look at what could have taken place, while seemingly keeping its feet firmly planted in the drama elements rather than on the facts of the case.


William (McMillan) still hasn't got over the loss of his wife a couple of years earlier and his constant moping about is starting to get on the nerves of his friends. The tension between them is palpable and sometimes spills out into aggression but still the group wants to find a way to help William out of the hole he's in. Rather than accept an invite to a party with his pals though, William prefers to stay home and contemplate suicide with a gun under his chin. This evening however, he will have to fight to keep his life as he is abducted and held hostage in a plastic wrapped basement.


While we sit with William strapped to his chair the past opens up and we get introduced to Lili (Donlon), the object of not just his affections. We watch their romance kindle and develop in sharply edited scenes while the past mingles with the present day and we cut back to the pals at the party as well as getting to know (visually) the serial killer as he goes about his business of torturing and killing a previous victim.


Everything jumbles together in a melange of flashbacks, layered imagery and heavy editing with a striking soundtrack tacked on over the top to keep the narrative menacing and tense. The story gets lost somewhere in the middle of it all though as most things get developed in impressions and relationships are expressed minimally without much foreground dialogue. It all gets held together, mostly, by McMillan's performance as William but even he can only do so much when he's strapped to a chair, covered in blood, and doesn't have a lot to say.


There's a lot to recommend Shot In The Dark with its direction and technical elements being assured and delivered with a determined professionalism. Unfortunately the stylistic aspects don't quite match up with the underlying story and in the end it feels as though two or more films are trying to make themselves heard and seen at the same time. The characters never really get explored and the scripting is too mundane or kept in the background to really do its job properly, which means in the end it's perhaps too difficult for the audience to invest in what is really just another small town serial killer story.

About the Film Critic
William Hemingway
William Hemingway
Indie Feature Film
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