dir. Keene McRae
That sound you can hear is the audience catching their breath after an hour and a half in the company of this taut, chilling, purposefully unpleasant watch. Landing us in an American town gripped by fear and paranoia as a serial killer prowls the streets, Shot in the Dark focuses on a potential victim (an admirable turn from Kristoffer McMillan) who must revisit his past in order to survive a hellish night in company he’d really rather avoid.
There is a tense, unrelenting quality here that will make director McRae’s debut an endurance for some: it’s almost admirable how little fun there is to be had (even David Fincher’s Se7en managed an occasional joke). But McRae (who also co-writes and takes a starring role) remains focused on the darkness, even limiting the levity that comes from trips to memories of a happier past.
There is however beauty in the grimness, a gorgeous sheen provided by Vlad Akushevich’s startling cinematography that complements the ensemble’s ability to find the humanity in their characters, with a complexity to many of the performances.
The result is one can’t help but respect McRae’s film, but for many this will be a piece that viewers will only want to watch once, and for some a first-time visit to this world may even be too much, with Shot in the Dark carrying a wealth of trigger warnings. It’s remorseless, unyielding and will likely linger with you long after it finishes: the kind of watch that – for better or worse – requires a long shower afterwards, with a dirtiness that drills down into the marrow of your bones, and chills your very soul.