Just because you're AWOL, doesn't mean you're safe. Straight Into Darkness makes that point abundantly clear. Somewhere in Western Europe, toward the end of World War II, a pair of American soldiers have been arrested and court-martialed following some uncertain but clearly grotesque wrongdoing involving a flamethrower. When their captors' vehicle passes through a live mine field and explodes, the disgraced soldiers find themselves liberated, fugitives in a hostile, war-torn land. With pretty much everyone in the country against them, the soldiers seek refuge and clash over their dramatically different philosophies. One is a moral man, psychologically unable to accept war. The other is simply psychotic. After several close encounters, they find shelter in a dilapidated school for orphans. Trained by hawkish professors (David Warner and Linda Thorson), the wounded inhabitants of this makeshift orphanage behave like amputee commandos, fighting off anyone who threatens their legless way of life. Initially, the deserters and professors clash but, when the German army arrives on the scene, they're forced to join arms (those who have arms) in combat. A massive battle follows, pitting two incompetent soldiers, a pair of disgruntled professors and a gang of freakshow performers against the entire German army. Guess who wins.
Fans of horror sequel guru Jeff Burr (The Stepfather 2, Pumpkinhead 2, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3) should brace themselves for something utterly different. Moody, atmospheric, and completely enigmatic, Straight Into Darkness is a genre-bending work with tremendous conceptual audacity. From beginning to end, Burr walks the fine line between exploitation and art, a fact reflected by the varied cinematic influences evident in the film. At its best, Straight Into Darkness achieves an intensity reminiscent of war classics like Full Metal Jacket or The Big Red One and a poetry that recalls A Midnight Clear and even The Thin Red Line. But it's more than just a war film. In its grim atmosphere, this feels like classic horror and the almost too-weird-to-believe orphans bring to mind everything from Eyes Without a Face to Freaks (obviously). There's even a taste of Sam Peckinpah’s jagged editorial rhythms in the film's unexpectedly energized action sequences. Still, at the end of the day, this is a unique and astonishing achievement in its own right. Visually adventurous and almost experimental in spots, Burr’s film avoids all the conventions of war movie blandness. It's an original and surprising take on the genre, one made with refreshing intelligence and artistry.
"The stylistic tradition of Malick's Thin Red Line blended with the contemplative imagery of Robert Frost and the darker ponderings of Edgar Allan Poe" - Stine Chyn, FILM THREAT
"Mood that just won't quit... unexpectedly moving" - Robert Butler, KANSAS CITY STARnotes
Hosted by Director Jeff Burrwebsite
Director: Jeff Burr
Screenplay: Jeff Burr
Cast: Ryan Francis, Scott MacDonald, James LeGros, David Warner, Linda Thorson
Producers: Mark Hannah, Will Huston, Chuck Williams, Chris Gore