Kevin Tran’s dark exploration of the human condition is both unsettling and captivating — deftly revealing the horrors hidden in our homes and our hearts.
“We’re all going to die in the same way: confused, scared, full of regret. Because we’re all just visitors down here.”
Set over the course of one long night, THE DARK END OF THE STREET is a moving, micro-budget gem which explores our shared human need to connect — in both beautiful and awful ways. At just over an hour long, it’s a brief but affecting story…the kind that lingers long after the final scene.
From the first frame of Kevin Tran’s acclaimed dark drama, you’ll know you’re in for something different.
An unassuming man named Frank (Rod Luzzi) walks his dog through a picturesque, suburban community full of manicured lawns and picket fences. But it doesn’t take long before we start to peel back the veneer and peer into the ugliness lurking just beneath the shiny surface. A lonely woman named Marney (Brooke Bloom) returns home from work, eagerly anticipating the affection of her cat Bruce. What she finds instead is a grisly and heartbreaking scene, with her back door pried open and her only companion lying brutally murdered on the floor (implied, not explicitly shown).
This was not a robbery. This was a deliberate and savage attack for a seemingly senseless reason.
The heinous crime sends shockwaves throughout the community, and we discover there have been multiple pet slayings in the once peaceful neighborhood. As residents begin to wonder how safe they really are, they ponder the obvious questions: “Who could do such a thing? More importantly, how could something like this happen here?”
Aided by a beautiful but haunting score, we float like a windblown leaf from house to house, briefly glimpsing into the private lives of the community’s residents.
We meet expecting parents, Jim (Scott Friend) and Patty (Lindsay Burdge); a young Korean couple, Sue (Jennifer Kim) and Keith (Daniel K. Isaac), and their daughter, Natalie (Kasey Lee); a kindly older man named Ian (Anthony Chisolm); Jim’s new friend, Richard (Jim Parrack), and a group of teenage bandmates.
This is not a horror film in the traditional sense of the word, though it does reflect on real life horror. And it’s not a mystery thriller about the hunt for the heartless killer. We discover who he is almost immediately, though we never get to know him or even attempt to understand his motives. In fact, the “why” in this film isn’t any more important than the “who”.
The fact that there is no why is almost entirely and precisely the point.
Instead, what we have is a slow burning drama about the human experience. It’s about how our lives connect and intersect, and about what it means to live in the world — to be both a part of the world and apart from it, to have our lives so intricately interwoven with others while we remain keenly aware of how inescapably alone we really are.
The Dark End of the Street is a thought-provoking film in which characters try to make sense of the world and their role within it.
Richard reflects on the meaning of life, or more succinctly put, how little meaning life really has. “The only thing that matters,” he muses, “is what’s real, what’s tangible… what’s here and now.” He plays the part of enlightened philosopher while he secretly battles with inner demons, like his sense of failure and lack of purpose.
Ian bonds over shared tragedy with his neighbor, Marney, recalling the heartbreaking story of his beloved pit bull who had to put down after he inadvertently frightened a young girl on her bike. The dog meant no harm; he was only doing what dogs do. The painful memory causes him to mournfully lament, “You can’t be nothing but what you are.”
The Dark End of the Street is a film that explores our deepest fears, insecurities, and loneliness.
It’s about the things we fill our lives with in an effort to cope, to survive, to find meaning, and to quiet the noise in our head.
Drugs. Social Media. Video Games. Music. Gossip. Family. Kids. Pets. Sex…Murder.
In so many ways, it’s all the same. It’s all the medicine we take to feel a little ok, even for a brief moment.
As much as it’s a film about the things we do to feel alive, it’s also very much about the things we fail to do. It’s about the chances we don’t take and the regrets that haunt us, as illustrated by a poignant scene where Marney is talking to Ian. She wonders aloud if she’s happy or just comfortable.
How does one begin to even tell the difference?