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The Independent Critic

Landon Beard, Eric Moyer, Lillian Bornstein
Peter O'Brien
101 Mins.

 "Running Through Darkness" Set to Premiere at Prairie Lights 
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Writer/director Peter O'Brien's Running Through Darkness tries hard to tell an original tale, the tale an ordinary guy, Calvin (Landon Beard), who discovers the beaten and left for dead body of former college crush Robin (Lillian Bornstein) while out for a morning run and quickly gets drawn into her dark and dangerous world that includes one not so ordinary guy named Karl (Eric Moyer). 

Karl's an impulsive sort, the kind of guy who doesn't take kindly to getting crossed and the kind of guy who's just paranoid enough to catch on quickly that Calvin has ill-advisedly agreed to Robin's request for assisted revenge. When his father (Corkey Ford, Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July) pays a well-timed visit, Calvin's renewed sense of optimism and determination to turn away from both Robin and Karl is met with the kind of swift brutality that makes it clear that the only way he's going to get back into the light is to go Running Through Darkness. 

Currently scheduled for its world premiere at Nebraska's Prairie Lights Film Festival, though that is subject to change, Running Through Darkness is a low-budget crime drama/thriller that pretty much fits the bill for what you've come to expect from a low-budget drama/thriller on the microcinema scene. 

Mark Thimijan's lensing is the true stand-out here, vacillating between moments of vulnerability and menace and expertly toying with the film's real and imagined shadows. Thimijan, whose directorial work has been reviewed here before at The Independent Critic, builds the tension and keeps it amping up throughout the film. 

As is nearly always expected with low-budget cinema, the film's sound mix is definitely hit-and-miss and at times serves to hinder the the film's dramatic moments. In a time when the digital age has made filmmaking accessible even for those on the smallest of budgets, it's hard not to lament that the audio world has yet to catch up. 

The ensemble cast for Running Through Darkness is mostly effective in telling O'Brien's story. The cast, which seems to be comprised of those primarily with stage backgrounds, grasps onto the complexities in the relationships between the characters and they play those little nuances for all they're worth. It's fun to watch even in those moments when we never quite hit the dramatic heights one would like to see in a cinematic effort. 

Running Through Darkness will most please experienced moviegoers able to dial expectations away from the multiplex and firmly plant themselves in the world of the low-budget, indie filmmaker. It's not a perfect film, but it's a perfectly good film to watch and I look forward to seeing where O'Brien is able to take it on the festival circuit. For more information on the film, visit its official website linked to in the credits. 

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic