BLADES IN THE DARKNESS *** Germany 2022 Dir: Alex Visani. 84 mins
The longest dictatorship in Europe was the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania (1976 – 1992) but once it finally came to an end Albania was left broken socially and economically to become a democracy. In 1997, Tirana the Capital of Albania is still reeling from the fall of Communism. We then meet a teenager called Matia standing motionless against a wall as a group of other teenagers kick a ball towards the wall he leans on. Matia is soon scared off and runs towards an abandoned bunker to hide from the hooligans that are chasing him. As Matia reads his comic book he starts to hear music and goes to investigate the bunker only to discover a few remnants of communism that will leave him not only physically scarred but will change the course of his life forever.
Now in present day, Tirana is starting to attract not only tourism but economic growth thanks to its growing business structures. This is where we meet friends Davide, Giulia, Nua and Adrian that all have big plans for their future and with a substantial investment hope to use one of the old bunkers and turn it into a modern restaurant that will become the talk of Europe. These plans will soon come crumbling down though when one of the group stabs their friends in the back by using the money to settle a debt they owe to a criminal.
Beginning to question whether the location is real and where the money is going to go the rest of the friends rally up and push their friend to take them to this location they speak so highly of. Once they arrive though they discover that the place is in ruins and upon entering they discover a stack of drugs and a big pool of blood. Not wanting to stick around they try to leave only to be confronted by a crime boss and his lackeys who take them back inside the bunker. They try reasoning with the criminal boss but all he wants is his money and soon the friends are forced to go further into the bunker and through the many tunnels. They will all soon discover that in these tunnels something monstrous from the past lives on and will do everything it can to protect what is theirs.
BLADES IN THE DARKNESS has a nice steady pace in character development to it that builds to a crescendo of violence in the latter part of the movie. The movie fits in the thriller genre at the beginning but its not long before you know your in horror territory with its slasher elements which are suitably gory with very painful looking deaths.
The locations really adds an extra richness to the film especially during the bunker scenes which are lit just right. Performances by the cast are superb as well with only a few obvious slasher movie clichés thrown in but ultimately the characters are not the stereotypes you would see in this type of movie. Alex Visani really has found his feet as a Director with this film and I would recommend that if you are unfamiliar with his then BLADES IN THE DARKNESS is a great place to start.
BLADES IN THE DARKNESS unashamedly wears its American horror influences on its blood covered sleeve but it does it with added European flair.
Review by Peter ‘Witchfinder‘ Hopkins