“From Black” – A Creepy Supernatural Thriller About Desperation [Review]

How far would you go to bring back a lost loved one?  When experiencing loss or grief, we often claim that we’d “give anything”, but rarely are we ever actually tested in that department.  Shudder’s latest film explores this idea with a supernatural horror twist.  And even if From Black seems a bit derivative of another film from a few years ago (which we’ll get to), it successfully creates a very creepy atmosphere.

Desperate Grief
Recovering drug addict Cora (Anna Camp) reels from the grief over the disappearance of her young son Noah. Tired of well-meaning people who wind up just making her feel worse, she turns to a mysterious man named Abel (John Ales), who claims that he knows a way to bring her son back.

FROM BLACK - Still 6
The whole story is told via flashback as she’s explaining everything to police. Not sure if this really adds anything or if it’s just to pad the runtime.

The two of them embark on a path of unholy rituals and uncomfortable personal details as they try to tap into the supernatural realm.  Albeit with frightening consequences.  Things start getting creepy, even when the ritual is going exactly as it should be.  These are forces that humans were not meant to delve into.

As far as scares go, From Black does a pretty decent job of focusing more on atmosphere than in your face jump scares.  The fear more so comes from an overarching sense of dread.  Cora knows that she’s dabbling with forces well beyond her control, and she also feels quite vulnerable placing herself in the hands of this stranger who is creepy just for the fact that he knows this ritual.

Both Anna Camp and John Ales play really well off of each other, making the entire thing almost feel like a play.  Amidst a sea of bland CGI, it’s refreshing to see just two actors in a room feeding off each other’s vibes and energies.  Also, much to the film’s credit, most of the effects appear to be practical in nature.

FROM BLACK - Still 4
Nothing beats a real actor in makeup, even if aided here and there by CGI. It gives the whole creature a more grounded appearance.

Without getting too much into spoilers, we get just enough of the supernatural realm that it still feels like it’s on the fringe of realism.  As much as I’m a fan of the Insidious films, they show way too much of “The Further”, and in doing so it kind of takes away the sense of mystery.  From Black gives its audience just enough breadcrumbs to lure us in, but still keeps the darker secrets veiled in the shadows.

Cryptonesia Coincidence?
From Black boasts a genuinely interesting premise, but for anyone who’s seen A Dark Song from 2016, the plot will seem eerily familiar.  That too dealt with a grieving mother who turned to a mysterious stranger who claimed to have knowledge of a supernatural ritual that could help her.

It’s impossible to know whether the filmmakers behind From Black had seen A Dark Song, and even if they had, plenty of horror films have been “inspired” by other ones.  But it was just an interesting parallel and fun to see how each one played things differently.  From Black feels like it’s better written, but it doesn’t go as far into disturbing territory as A Dark Song did.

Either way, From Black manages to tell a compelling story about a protagonist that is easy to either relate to or understand.  And when it wants to be creepy, it does so with great effect!

From Black is streaming exclusively on Shudder!

What did you think of From Black?  How far would you go to bring back a loved one? Let us know in the comments!

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