dir. Patrick Rea
Amy (Sarah McGuire) is on the run with her adopted son Adrian (Patrick McGee) when she hides in her parents’ abandoned farmhouse from vengeful ex Judith (Laurie Catherine Winkel). Whilst there, Adrian seems to be haunted by a presence only he can see, and as things escalate this entity becomes hellbent on harming Amy, all while she is trying to protect herself and her son from her violent former partner.
Whilst the subject of partner abuse within queer relationships is one that should be explored in cinema and brought to light, with films like What Keeps You Alive (2018) handling this subject delicately, Patrick Rea’s follow up to FrightFest film I Am Lisa (2020) is unable to boast the same approach. Its clumsy treatment of domestic abuse creates a dangerous discourse on if victims should be believed, and whether there’s something that the victim has done to cause their abuser to become violent: actions in Amy’s past and her treatment of her partner is what – according to the plot – has driven Judith to turn into a brutal and vicious person.
As well as this inadequate portrayal of abuse the storyline behind how exactly Amy and Judith (who are both white) came to adopt their Adrian (who is Black) raises questions about the moral viewpoint of the film itself. With the colonialist and racial history behind illegal transracial adoptions of children from Black, Indigenous and Asian families it’s difficult to separate They Wait In The Dark’s portrayal from this. The issue is that the film never clearly expresses its moral standpoint on this – or partner abuse – and as such its intentions remain unclear and therefore problematic.
© Ygraine Hackett-Cantabrana