FrightFest 2013: ‘Daylight’ review


Not to be confused with the 1996 Stallone film, Daylight (2013) is something of a team effort, boasting a trio of directors – David McCracken, Joel Townsend and Kaidan Tremain – who also divvy up a number of additional production credits as well. Taking pace in the titular town of Daylight, this low budget horror follows a team of Child Protection Service workers who are investigating a possible case of child abuse. Interviewing the girl, school teachers, family and friends, the investigators try to piece together what is going on, whilst at the same time drawn towards a mysterious local priest (Patrick Andersen).

Following a mockumentary-style prologue, Daylight gets going as a found footage film. The intro actually details where the footage was found and the characters all have names which are identical to or similar to the actors who play them, although it’s unclear whether this is supposed to add a creepy meta-feel to the film, or because they simply couldn’t be bothered to think up alternatives. Some of the footage is justified, but when we’re introduced to the inevitable character with a proclivity for filming his co-workers – at one point even hiding his camera in a lunch box – it’s difficult to suppress exasperation. “Why are you always filming things?” has become as clichéd in a line as “Hello, is there anyone out there?”

The acting on the whole is ropey – ranging from made-for-television bad to just plain bad – and the found footage format actually highlights this failing more than a less naturalistic genre (a B-movie for instance) might. That said the team keep the convoluted story swirling about in a fairly dynamic wilfully confusing way. And as the film goes on and the investigation into abuse broadens to include the possibility of demonic possession, the directors begin to make some bold and interesting decisions, escaping the lame clichés of its initial premise.

The last act is likely to divide audiences, but for me it was by far the best part of the film, outrunning the Paranormal Blair Witch Activity influences and coming up with something altogether its own, even as it threatens to fall completely to pieces. Whether audiences can be expected to flock to yet another found footage film, especially with the two recent V/H/S films fresh in the memory, but Daylight gives some nice twists and creepy moments to a familiar tale.

The 14th Film4 FrightFest takes place from 22-26 August, 2013. For more of our FrightFest coverage, simply follow this link.

John Bleasdale