The Passion of Darkly Noon is a 1995 suspense thriller film written & directed by Philip Ridley (The Reflecting Skin & Heartless). It was produced by Dominic Anciano (Death Machine, The Reflecting Skin, The Krays, & Final Cut) & Jim Beach (Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody, Cross Country, & Dirty Weekend). Philip Ridley won the Best Director Prize at the Porto Film festival for this.
Darkly Noon (played by: Brendan Fraser from The Mummy franchise, Doom Patrol, Crash, & Gods and Monsters) is a young man who has spent his entire life as a member of an ultraconservative Christian cult. After a violent incident in which the cult is dissolved & Darkly’s parents die. He is the only survivor from the massacre. A disoriented Darkly wanders into a forest in the Appalachian region of North Carolina. He is rescued from exhaustion by a coffin transporter named Jude (played by: Loren Dean from The Mule, Gattaca, Enemy of the State, & Billy Bathgate) who works for Quincy (played by: Lou Myers from Tin Cup, Volcano, Cobb, & It’s Kind of a Funny Story) & his friend Callie (played by: Ashley Judd from Heat, Bug, Twin Peaks, & Kiss the Girls). Jude leaves Darkly in Callie’s care. As Callie nurses him back to health, Darkly becomes frustrated by the conflict between his religious past & his attraction to his new friend. His frustration intensifies when Clay (played by: Viggo Mortensen from Green Book, Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, Young Guns II, & The Reflecting Skin) returns home after being away for a few days. Darkly’s inner turmoil further builds after he encounters Clay’s mother Roxy (played by: Grace Zabriskie from Twin Peaks, Big Love, Child’s Play 2, & Wild at Heart) who tells him not to trust Callie. Darkly becomes good friends with Jude. They make a plan to move away from all of this & get a fresh start. Darkly starts acting weird & turns into someone else. Will jealousy extend Darkly’s madness? Or Can he get over these new feelings before it turns something bad????
Honestly, I’ve never heard of The Passion of Darkly Noon until Arrow Video announced it for this blu ray release. The director & cast instantly grabbed my attention for it. Darkly Noon is a very strange small film. It only has a few characters in it & the forest is something that really stands out here. That location kinda changes all the major roles in this when they encounter it. It has it’s own powers & sends these lost individuals on a dark path. The script, production design, music, & cinematography were top notch. The score & main theme stays with you for days after experiencing this. The story definitely keeps you on your toes, you never know what’s going to happen & finale just blows your mind when it all goes down. It reminded me of a David Lynch production, I could easily see this directed by him. It’s bizarre & it’s in own little world with all these interesting people. This independent feature is a breath of fresh air & something different when it comes to cinema. I loved the tension & build up to the end here. It made me feel very unconformable at times which almost never happens. Brendan Fraser is known for all his blockbuster & major roles which includes lots of gimmicky over the top material from back in the day. I’ve never him like this before, this is best performance in his entire career. He proves that he can hang with anyone for Darkly Noon. Ashley Judd is very sexy here & you can’t keep your eyes off her seductive performance. Excellent eye candy & she was really good in this. Her character creates all this chaos. Viggo Mortensen had to work his ass off in Darkly Noon because he plays a mute so his acting here was elevated because he couldn’t use words with this role. Lots of actors can’t pull off something like that. The supporting cast was great which included Loren Dean, Grace Zabriskie, & Lou Myers. Every role was very important in this small movie. If you are looking for something weird & original with a hint of David Lynch, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this release!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Arrow Video! This 1080p (2.35:1) transfer is a brand new 2K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative. This is the best it’s ever looked, I compared it to some older versions & it’s like a different film. It’s a very bright film, the cinematography is beautiful here. It has a variety of audio options which includes English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English: LPCM 2.0, & Music: LPCM 2.0 on this release. It’s a huge upgrade from all the other home video releases. The dialogue is crystal clear & all the madness is elevated here. The music has a killer boost to it plus the isolated track is just flat out amazing. It has English SDH subtitles. Both picture & sound are very impressive for a low budget mid 90s feature!!!!
Let’s discuss the special features from Arrow Video! “Audio Commentary” with writer & director Philip Ridley. “American Dreams: Inside the Mind of Philip Ridley” is a little over 20 minute visual essay by James Flower. This goes into great detail about Philip Ridley’s entire career. He chats about his paintings, his photographs, his books, & his films. He talks about the visually film making style being inspired by his colorful paintings & photographs. He mentions what books & films inspired the director. He chats about his first film The Reflecting Skin. He talks about The Passion of Darkly Noon after. He compares both of them & points out the similarities. He brings up real life events that got put into the script. He brings up a third film that was going to be like those other two & name drops the cast that was lined up for it but unfortunately it never happened. “Eyes of Fire” is a little over 22 minute interview with cinematographer John de Borman. He chats about starting as an artist then getting into film making. He says he wanted to work with someone with the same background, that’s why he choose Philip Ridley. He chats about his experience working with the director. He talks about the visual style. He brings up the talented cast for the movie. He mentions that Viggo was his friend but he wouldn’t talked to him at all during the shoot because he stayed in character the whole time. He goes over the dangerous & rough conditions they went through for filming. He chats about the music for Darkly Noon. He talks about some of the other films that he has done over the years. ”Sharp Cuts” is a little over 16 minute interview with editor Les Healey. He chats about starting out doing Ridley Scoot films with another editor. He talks about how he got his gig on his own. He goes over the editing process & equipment he used during it. He says music was a huge help when putting everything together. He breaks down the editing on some scenes from the production. “Forest Songs” is an almost 20 minute interview with composer Nick Bicât. He chats about his career & an earlier project that grabbed Philip Ridley’s attention. He talks about first working on his previous feature The Reflecting Skin. He mentions he did some music for Darkly Noon before they even started filming. They all used it as inspiration on the set. They brings up he built the entire score out of that material & it really set the tone for the production. He goes his experience working with the director plus a vocalist P.J. Harvey for a song in this. He goes into great detail about the instruments & certain styles used during the movie. “Dreaming Darkly” is a little over 16 minute archival extra from 2015 featuring interviews with Philip Ridley, Viggo Mortensen & Nick Bicât. They chat about their experience on Darkly Noon. Viggo talks about staying in character for the entire production. He brings up that this was the best performances from both Fraser & Judd. He goes over working on The Reflecting Skin before this one. He says it’s a shame Ridley has only did one film since this & he would like to see him do more in the future because he’s a unique talent. Philip Ridley chats about his three films being similar & basically considered a trilogy. Philip Ridley & Nick Bicât go into great detail about the music. They talk about doing more together for Heartless then later on doing a full group album together. Philip Ridley goes on a little bit about his other work. ”Unreleased Demos” has rare little over 22 minutes of music from composer Nick Bicât featuring Callie #1, Darkly, & Callie #2. It has a “Theatrical Trailer” & “Image Gallery” for the film. It also has a slipcover, reversible artwork, & a 40 page booklet. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!