Top positive review
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Cross of Iron meets Freaks. Haunting and memorable
on 26 May 2010
**** Warning spoilers ****
Straight into Darkness is the slightly cumbersome title for this remarkably eerie and moving film set in the last months of WW2.
The main characters are two GI deserters - one thuggish and psychotic, the other innocent but profoundly disturbed, being transported to face court martial. Inadvertently driving into a mine field, provides us with some scenes of explicit gore and palpable tension. Given the opportunity to escape, the GIs flee through the war-torn landscape, encountering scenes of medieval horror. Setting up camp in a huge, labyrinthine building, they discover they are sharing it with a rag-tag group of special needs children and their two adult mentors. The latter are excellently acted by Linda Thorson (The Avengers) and David Warner (Cross of Iron, Star Trek, The Omen etc. etc.). The children, many of whom have physical and mental disabilities, are played by genuine Romanian orphans, which makes their amazing performances all the more moving. Trained by Warner and Thorson to fight the Nazis, the children treat it like a game, with little thought for their own safety. There's camaraderie and poignancy in abundance, inspired use of flash-backs and a stunning electronic score reminiscent of early 70's ambient like Tangerine Dream. A very moving finale, as the thug seizes the moment to redeem himself and allow a pitiful handful of survivors to escape and I defy anyone not to have a tear in their eye when the silent girl removes her mask in a stunning moment of high drama.
OK, so it's not perfect - the German tactics are somewhere between suicidal and idiotic and the budget obviously didn't stretch to providing a convincing Tiger tank, but I'm nitpicking. Straight into Darkness is undeniably powerful and, for my money, quite simply one of the best war films of recent years.