Every once in a blue moon I take a look in the independent section of netflix, scan the message boards on imdb or do a little bit of research I order to find something I have no idea about, to blind watch something obscure and little heard of. Often I get saddled with head scratching bilge water, but sometimes there’s that perfect film out there, just waiting to be taken in and appreciated by more people. Darkness On The Edge Of Town (is that not a wicked title?) seemed like what I was in the mood for, so I gave it a shot. Blew me away. Like an intoxicating mix of Straw Dogs, Thirteen, Mystic River and others, all set in atmospheric Ireland, and absolutely brilliant. It opens with one of the most beautiful wordless prologues, in which we witness a murder being carried out, and are privy to the perpetrator right off the bat. The victim is young woman Sophie (Maura Foley), leaving her estranged sister Cleo (Emma Eliza Regan) and her best friend Robin (Emma Willis) to put the pieces together, while both navigating broken foster homes, dangerous Travellers and a suspicious police detective. Cleo & Emma are problematic, near feral waifs who grew up as best friends, but with not much other companionship from anyone else. Even Sophie was an absentee sibling with her own problems, as revealed in flashbacks that fill in gray areas. The two have spent a shared childhood and adolescence running wild, and as such see fit to take on their own investigation into the crime, leading to places of darkness, confusion and revelations which will threaten to tear them apart. The film carefully examines the relationship between the two leads, as well as each one’s connection to Sophie and how it affects their choices and outlooks. There’s an ethereal magic to it all, a fairy tale timbre to the soundtrack and photography, hinting towards a shred of innocence still left in these two, despite how bitter life has made them both. Music plays a big part too, especially in the muted opening, a stark, striking way to usher us into the story and an evocative blend of otherworldly suggestion and blunt frankness. The three girls are superb in their roles, and I look forward to seeing more work from them in the future. My only gripe is with story structure, as some of the finer plot turns could have been more precisely pronounced. However, it’s evident these people are fledgling filmmakers still getting a feel for their technique, so all is forgiven. The misty locale of Northern Ireland takes on it’s own portentous sentience here, as you can guess by the title, which nearly brings the horror genre to mind. The only horror to be found here is in sickness of the mind, and the actions it can lead to amongst people, even those who love each other. Darkness is key here, with but a few rays of light and beauty amidst a thicket of trauma and violence. Check this one out while it’s on netflix, because I doubt it can be found anywhere else at this stage. A gem.