Dark Of Winter, released on DVD on 10/2/12 by director David Snyder and HWIC Film Company, is slightly reminiscent of the classic film The Professional (in that the protagonist is a paid-for-hire killer), but there the comparison ends, as Snyder’s work has the feel of an early work by Ingrid Bergman (especially in the black-and-white Prologue). John French, played by Kyle Jason (in just about every scene of the movie) is a hitman, although we don’t know why he decided on this profession. His job has its stresses (leading him to often see blood that isn’t there and making him wash his hands constantly, like guilty Lady Macbeth), and it also disappoints him that in his life he was continuously away from his wife and daughter Shelly (Ashtyn Neibar) which we assume led to the divorce that his wife
wanted. And of course if you’re a killer you can’t have a prominent social life – he lives alone, eats alone, sleeps alone and there is always the pressure of being caught
as you’re driven to and from anyplace where you must shoot someone and then get away as quickly as possible.
We follow John French on a few of his jobs and realize that what he does could just as easily happen to him, since there are those who’d want revenge against him. He is driven by Mike (Kevin M. Hayes), who wears a beret and has a white beard and is the middleman between French and his employer. But then Mike is suddenly “visited” also.
Mike generally phones John and tells him what’s happening, and drives him to and from the hit. But then one day after a job while John is washing his hands, there’s a knock on the door. It’s Sarah (Erica Paisley), his daughter Shelly’s best friend from high school, whom he hasn’t seen in years and barely recognizes, and John makes her dinner and eventually a romance ensues.
Music plays an important part in Dark Of Winter, since it sets the mood (John French’s feelings) as we see him shaving, looking in the mirror, dressing and preparing for a hit. This is original music by Kyle Jason and also by the groups Tree As Man and Bombience.
The brooding Dark Of Winter also contains the inky darkness of mystery, as a long flashback that makes us wonder who’s who and what is happening (although it does explain a blood-spotted note written in black magic marker that tells us DON’T TRUST HER). Tension-and-action packed, Dark Of Winter explores one man’s dilemmas and the unexpected problems that he faces. Each major cast member creates an excellent portrayal, especially Sarah as the temptress (why is she returning to Mr. French and looking at high school photos after so many years?) and of course Jason Kyle as John French. An experience in fear and liberation from up-and-coming filmmaker David Snyder, who has many more originals in his future.
Reviewed by Christina Zawadiwsky
Christina Zawadiwsky is Ukrainian-American, born in New York City, has a degree in Fine Arts, and is a poet, artist, journalist and TV producer. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts Award, two Wisconsin Arts Boards Awards, a Co-Ordinating Council of Literary Magazines Writers Award, and an Art Futures Award, among other honors. She was the originator and producer of Where The Waters Meet, a local TV series created to facilitate the voices of artists of all genres in the media, for which she won two national and twenty local awards, including a Commitment to Community Television Award. She is also a contributing editor to the annual Pushcart Prize Anthology, the recipient of an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association, and has published four books of poetry. She has reviewed music for Music Room Reviews, films for Movie Room Reviews, Movie Scribes, and FilmSay, and is currently reviewing books and films online for Book Room Reviews, whose address is www.bookroomreviews.com.