Dark Haul (2014)
Director: Daniel Wise
Starring: Tom Sizemore, Rick Ravanello & Evalena Marie
Released by: Scream Factory
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
Dark Haul centers on a society of guardians who fall astray as they attempt to transport a demon creature and its half-human sister in an 18-wheeler to a secure location. When a hidden agenda compromises their mission, the beast is unleashed with the society battling for the fate of the world and their lives. Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan), Rick Ravanello (The Cave) and Evalena Marie (Remains) star.
Produced in conjunction with the SyFy network, Dark Haul takes a far more serious approach to its material than past productions including, the “so bad, they’re good” Sharknado films. Unfortunately, Dark Haul nosedives almost instantly with a 1700s-era prologue detailing a cryptic prophecy that births a demon creature and its half-human sister. Flash-forwarding to present day, a secret society known as The Keepers continue their mission of attempting to capture the evil spawns to whisk them away to a barren Pennsylvania location. Although, related to the grotesque creature and detained by The Keepers, Zib (Marie) is ordered to control her brother to ensure both their safety as they are forced into their new dwelling. Finally captured and hauled off in an 18-wheeler, the winged beast is eventually freed, much to the dismay of Keeper member, Knicks (Sizemore). As countless lives are taken, The Keepers and Zib must do everything they can to contain the monster before all hope is lost.
Constantly referred to as The Jersey Devil yet, with no mention in its advertisements, Dark Haultakes what could have been a fun tale surrounding a New Jersey myth but, instead delivers an overly complicated mess. Lacking in any semblance of suspense, this creature feature boasts dull performances and abysmal computer-generated effects that offer concrete evidence of its subpar budget. In addition, the sibling creatures’ endless abilities to blind others, create mirages and speak telepathically to one another reeks of lazy writing and a means to easily excuse the characters out of any threat. Action sequences involving a gas station in flames and countless Jersey Devil attacks offer little to no excitement with its conclusion leaving the viewer bewildered. While, its premise showed mild promise, Dark Haul ultimately suffers from a far too busy and uninteresting narrative matched with atrocious effects work, derailing this horror offering as one SyFy’s more forgettable productions.
Scream Factory presents Dark Haul with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Shot digitally, this SyFy offering relays relatively natural skin tones while, lacking sharper detail in most closeups. The cold, desolate settings never contribute much color, leaving the film with a very drab appearance. In addition, black levels disappoint with moderate levels of noise, disrupting the viewing experience. Fairing better than its video transfer, Dark Haul comes equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix boasting audible dialogue levels and well handled boosts in action sequences involving inferno and gunshots. In addition, an optional DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix is also provided for your listening pleasure. Finally, a Trailer (1:45) marks the sole special feature on this release.
Falling on the lower tier of SyFy productions, Dark Haul is an atrocious disaster that will leave viewers scratching their heads in disappointment. Devoid of any thrills or excitement, Dark Haulloses its audience with an overcomplicated plot and a monster compromised by painfully dreadful modern effects. Scream Factory’s Blu-ray presentation is adequate but, lacks the sharpness one might expect from a newly produced feature. A complete blunder from start to finish, Dark Haulis a ride best missed.
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