Since the age of ten years old, four lifelong friends, Quinn, Jen, Joey, and Ian, camp on the outlying coast of Vancouver Island, Canada. Quinn’s girlfriend, Rachel, tags along for a trip filled of booze, drugs, and beach lounging. When at first the group of friends meet up with two gung-ho surfing Australians and a drunkard Brit, a night of relaxation and hallucinogenic tripping follows until one of the Aussie’s makes a fateful move on Jen that begins a series of unfortunate and murderous events turning the fun camping getaway into a unbelievable nightmare for all.
“Dark Cove” is a Canadian thriller from first time director Rob Willey that feasts upon the versatile and volatile nature that is aggressively human. The Vancouver Island beach backdrop is a serene, isolated stretch of sand, water, and forest rolled up into a coastal woodland. A perfect gathering point that serves suitably for “Dark Cove’s” remote needs and the aside from the roar of the surf, the tranquility becomes polluted by the wants of man that goes to prove the notion that one rotten apple can spoil the entire batch, including a peaceful beach, without needing to dump the likes of grisly viscera all over.
Whereas “Dark Cove” conveys the underlying human aggression ready to explode at any given gas-lit spark, the film also conveys a hefty amount of breathy hot air. When building up toward the momentum-turning event, one would first wonder if anything would ever go array with no sense of a violent storm upon the horizon. Before everything spirals out of control, the centric group of characters find themselves amongst an endless cavern of talking points about the woes and the joys of their young lives growing up and being adults. Quinn quickly dismisses his recently earned university degree because he can’t find a job in his liberal arts field and has to work as a server, Joey’s immature mission in life is to have sex with a girl of every nationality, and Jen departs from a two year relationship that quickly has her jumping into the arms of strangers. The latter being more relevant to the story than all the other campfire jawing with Jen’s encounter with one of two Australian surfers. Its as if “Dark Cove” tries to become more of a film trying to make a statement about the uselessness of a higher education and that one out of five will be successful.
From then on, the series of unfathomable events go from chill, a term Quinn constantly uses when he’s obviously not, to maximum carnage and confusion in a split second. The effect resembles the shock of going flat-out cold turkey, a sudden forced change that’s so terribly unbelievable it puts a wrench into the situational outlook afterwards. The backstory behind characters starts to quickly unravel to a point where they’re severely different characters than before. Quinn is somehow a master genius of hiding evidence, the professionally successful friend Ian snaps and goes bananas after the altercation between the Aussie and Jen, and Quinn’s girlfriend Rachel transforms into a cold person from a visibly warm and loving partner. Dean and Chase, the two Aussies, also suffer underdevelopment. Dean hints at their risky bohemian habits with their expired Canadian visas, but don’t exactly emit a bad vibe up until the moment of truth. Chase is the most interesting character with this most disappointing exposition about his history with a large Irezumi-like tattoo on nearly his entire back and his shows an enormous amount of aggressive power typical of hard life experiences.
Rob Willey committed to a one-man filmmaking machine. Willey proved he can tell a coherent story through writing and directing the story while serving as also the lead actor in Quinn, producer, editor, and providing some original scores. His surfer “brah” attitude for Quinn stood out his character from the rest of his childhood friends who deemed more down to Earth with their raunchy “American Pie” sex jokes and philosophical debates. Co-producer Rob Abbate saddled up as sex hound Joey and his performance was filled with over saturated sex comedy that overwhelms, but his timing and delivery was on point, kicking up some chuckles here and there. I can’t say too much about the rest of the cast as they felt just too flat. Ty Stokoe is a bi fella who I wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley, but when his character Chase removes his shirt in anger and starts to gorilla yell at the sky, the passion didn’t quite fit the scenario and felt out of sync with the tone. Moments like this are prevalent throughout and do affect the raw appeal of “Dark Cove.”
“Dark Cove” is a 2015 Hot Springs International Horror/Thriller film festival premier film that’s currently only available on iTunes, Digital HD, and Cable VOD. Also, the film is available on Canadian platforms Shaw, Bell, and MTS. I’m unable to critique the video and audio quality of the release since I was provided a DVD-R, but the 84 runtime feature stars Rob Willey, Rob Abbate, Ty Stokoe, Eliot Bayne, Cameron Crosby, Montanna McNalley, James Anderson, Jules Cotton, and Alexandra Brown. In conclusion, “Dark Cove” is an unimaginative, run-of-the-mill thriller we’ve seen before this time set on a Canadian sandy beach and accompanied with some jabs at their North American brethren. No offense taken, but “Dark Cove” is a tired premise done half-cocked.