Review by Sean Boelman
The four-and-a-half-hour documentary In Search of Darkness promised to be the comprehensive guide to ‘80s horror, but even it wasn’t without its holes. The (somehow slightly longer) follow-up In Search of Darkness: Part II serves as a wonderful companion piece, filling a lot of its predecessor’s blind spots.
In the film, director David A. Weiner and his cast of interviewees discuss an additional crop of ‘80s horror movies and topics related to their production. However, whereas the first film was largely focused on the anecdotes behind your favorite flicks in the genre, this one seems more interested in bringing some forgotten gems into the spotlight.
As is the case with any documentary as long as this, it can be a tiresome ordeal for those who aren’t hardcore fans. However, much like the last movie, it is organized in a way that is very energetic, with segments for films organized into sections by year, in addition to a few asides for deep dives into more specific topics.
Some of these detours actually end up being more interesting than the overall survey of cinematic history. There are some portions of the movie which explore genuine screen legends like Robert Englund and Geretta Geretta, and the latter in particular discusses how the social context of the 1980s influenced her acting career.
The film also addresses some of the subtextual elements that defined this group of horror movies. While there are other documentaries that explore these ideas — like the gay subtext of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge — in more detail, this sequel doesn’t get caught up as easily in fanboyishness.
The most impressive thing about this documentary is the absolute wealth of interviewees that Weiner was able to assemble to talk about this iconic era in horror. From actors in the films to some of the greatest horror directors ever, there are plenty of recognizable faces participating in the project.
Of course, the documentary also contains plenty of footage from the movies in question. What makes this sequel stand out, though, is that the films featured are often more obscure, and as such, will leave viewers intrigued and excited to seek out some of these cult classics from the glimpses they see.
In Search of Darkness: Part II is another documentary that is obviously made for fans, but it is also an improvement over its predecessor in many regards. The type of audience that will love this is exactly the type that will seek it out, and will hopefully discover some new favorites in the process.
In Search of Darkness: Part II streams on Shudder beginning April 29.