Did You Know?
This story was inspired by actual events reported to have happened to a Chinese family in Malaysia in
Visit the Doomed Family page for more amazing and terrifying information.
Four in Chinese Culture: The Most Feared NumberSaying "four" in Chinese sounds like the word for "death." Among Chinese people this number is thought to be extremely unlucky, even deadly, like 13 in the west. Often, Chinese buildings simply don't have a floor numbered "four."
The film is presented as a “docudrama” by a television announcer, Danny Valencia, produced from videotape he discovered in 2010 at the site of an unsolved crime in the Philippine Sagada Mountains. There is some news footage and a dramatization at the beginning, but most of the film is the main story.
On December 25, 2003, an upscale Filipino family gathers at a remote place in those mountains for a Christmas Day reunion dinner. It's a happy occasion where the main character, Susan announces her marriage engagement to her boyfriend, Ken, whom she brought with her.
Suddenly, the group is cut off from civilization and plunged into darkness by forces that defy natural laws and shut down all types of modern technology. One by one, the family members die or disappear in weird and horrific ways. The few who are left, including Susan, struggle for survival and against family conflicts and demonic forces, to find out what's “out there” and what is happening.
Finally, Susan and the few left alive must understand the cult writings in an old book, to prevail against demonic forces that threaten to consume them all. They have to understand and overcome a dark, pagan religion and the need for exorcism, as well as family secrets, in order to survive. The alternative is life in a hellish “heaven” more terrifying than death.
Suspense and mystery keep you unsettled and guessing till the very end, when the fate and outcome of all is finally revealed. This is a psychological horror film with intense Gothic family drama, suspense, action, and terror. It contains a minimum of gore, violence, and graphic special effects. There are no cliché or oft-used thrill gimmicks. The viewer is led step by step into a dark world of sinister and fantastical events, where the familiar meets the magical, and your most cherished loved one could be your mortal enemy.
On the surface, it's an entertaining and truly scary thriller. However, for those who want to probe deeper, the story has multiple layers of characterization and thematic depth, including commentary on modern "advanced" society and technology, as well as its impact on our closest family ties.
Follow any of the following links for more information:
From it's earliest beginnings in Malaysia, the story behind Darkest Night was filled with tragedy, mishaps and strange, inexplicable events. Starting out with a mysterious, perhaps suppressed legend, the film's story grew into a movie surrounded by losses and "accidents." The filming of a disappeared family's story soon grew into a filming plagued by disappearances.
After moving to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in May 2010, Russ Williams, the Darkest Night producer, sought to make a film there based on an older horror screenplay he had previously written, titled Out of Time. This script was about an isolated family that fell prey to black magic induced by a family member. Williams tells more of his early thoughts during this time in his Finding a Way interview on this website.
However, after hearing about a Malaysian urban legend type ghost story, he decided to combine the subject matter of the script with this legend. The legend's story concerns a Chinese family in the Malaysian Cameron Highlands, which mysteriously disappeared on February 1, 2003, during the night of a Chinese New Year celebration. For more information on these origins, see Doomed Family. This section also contains video of an interview staff conducted with a local source of this story, who claims to have witnessed strange events.
As Williams investigated this story and interviewed more persons in Malaysia, he discovered many similarities between the stories of Out of Time and the reported "disappeared" family. Though Williams does not claim that Darkest Night is "based on a true story," in personal interviews, he has said he believes the Malaysian story is a valid account. However, he makes no claims about the authenticity of local tales about ghosts that supposedly inhabit the actual ruins and area where the Malaysian family disappeared. Also, Williams refuses to give the name of the family in this urban legend, citing concerns for family members still living in parts of the country.
The film-making climate of Malaysia proved unsuitable to filming there because of arbitrary government censorship, so Williams moved his location to the Philippines. The Chinese characters of the story became Filipino, and the lunar new year became Christmas. The characters and general family dynamic in the story remained the same, and the author only made changes necessary to accommodate a different culture, race and nationality.
As a result, the final version of the Darkest Night screenplay came about. See Finding a Way for more information on the film's move from Malaysia to the Philippines.
Photo Above: This photo was taken near the house in Floridablanca where Darkest Night was filmed. It shows "orbs," phenomena often associated with the paranormal. Witnesses during the shoot continually reported seeing orbs. For more photos, see the Surviving the Night page.
In a private interview, Williams answers this question, as follows, “I wanted the film to be a cinéma vérité recording of the way reality looks during a nightmare, specifically my own nightmares as a child. These nightmares never had great production values or looked beautiful. They were always dark, fragmentary, claustrophobic and chaotic. I never had control over what my ‘mental camera’ actually saw. While dreaming, I felt like I was autistic in almost every sense of the word, unable to control myself while in that terrible world. In fact, my nightmares never look like a 15 million-dollar production. After the earthquake, and the lights go out, the film crosses over from ordinary life into increasingly dread-filled, dark scenarios.”
After looking for talent in the Philippines, Williams found the film's director, Filipino Noel Tan. He and Williams worked together closely on producing Darkest Night mostly in and around a rural mansion in Floridablanca, Pampanga in Luzon, where the entire production group lived together during that time.
There were many reports of supernatural events happening in the house while Darkest Night was shot, including local stories from the surrounding community that the house was really haunted. For example, the film's star, DJ Perry, reported deep scratches on his back from an unseen entity while working on the film. These scratches were documented by photographs. Other cast and crew members reported seeing and hearing ghostly presences while the house was darkened and quiet. For more information on these events, see the Surviving the Night section on ghosts in the house.
The Post-production for Darkest Night lasted about one year, from June 2011 to June 2012 and largely took place in Manila. Work on this phase of production was delayed and severely hampered by strange events during this entire time. For example, all of the film's later dialog dubbing (ADR recordings) mysteriously disappeared at one point and were never found. Also, much of the visual effects footage and music recording, as well as footage of several chroma-screen shoots, all simply vanished. These types of disappearances plagued the film's post-production almost continually.
Today, only the best of the film's original takes plus a few brief visual effects (VFX) sequences remain. All other additional footage from the film, audio and video, is lost. No one has been able to account for these strange disappearances associated with the film.
On November 16, 2011, there was a private premiere of Darkest Night for cast and crew plus their friends and relatives, in Manila. Again mysterious losses plagued the film, and the director was forced to show an inferior "rough cut" of the film because no finished video could be found. The release dates for the film were seriously delayed while another post-production phase was necessary to come up with a fully finished version of the film.
Finally, the film had its U.S. premiere at the Filipino Arts and Cinema (FACINE) International Film Festival in San Francisco on October 20, 2012. Interestingly, the festival's director, Dr. Mauro Tumbocon, reported that the original DVD for the film, which he had first received, would not work. Instead he had to preview the film for the festival from an "emergency copy" at the very last minute, before the film could be "officially" scheduled.
Almost every step of the production of Darkest Night labored under a dark cloud of fear and profound mishaps. Were the ghosts in Malaysia and in the house unhappy with the filming of their story? Maybe they were. If so, one hopes now that their story is told, they have all found some kind of lasting peace.
ANGELES - Gothic
Pictures International is happy to announce that our latest film,
Darkest Night, is now fully released in the U.S. and Canada by
Media International. It is available on most VOD platforms, as well
There was also a limited theatrical release in the western U.S.
in July 2013, lasting several weeks, according to Russ Williams,
GPI's executive producer.
Photo on right: Check out Maxim's DVD cover for Darkest Night.
Maxim Media is an American film distributor based in Arizona, which
specializes in releasing quality horror films.
Darkest Night is a horror feature that combines intense family and Gothic drama with lots of suspense and scares. It had its U.S. premiere to much critical acclaim in San Francisco at the FACINE film festival.
Courtesy of Maxim Media, Darkest Night had a limited theatrical run in the U.S. during July 2013, culminating with its release on VOD and DVD later that month, according to Williams. Maxim Media is an American film distributor in Arizona, which specializes in releasing quality horror films.
There will also be release in Germany, Austria and Switzerland by the end of 2013, according to Williams. Williams said negotiations are currently under way for release in other countries. Additional announcements will be made later, as other countries are added to Darkest Night's release list.
The official announcement of release was made by Williams at the 19th annual Filipino Arts and Cinema International (FACINE) Film Festival in San Francisco on October 20, 2012 (see below).
We will have more news about this exciting film on this site, as it happens, so please check back with us. Also, whenever you want, please visit the Darkest Night Facebook page.
SAN FRANCISCO – Gothic Pictures International is happy to announce that our latest film, Darkest Night was critically acclaimed at its U.S. premiere. The 19th annual Filipino Arts and Cinema (FACINE) International Film Festival awarded Darkest Night its Valuable Contribution Certificate during its film festival here on October 20, 2012.
Darkest Night is a horror film that combines intense family and Gothic drama with lots of suspense and scares. It had its international premiere in Manila, Philippines late in 2011. The exhibition at FACINE was its first public U.S. screening.
"The film was an instant hit at the FACINE festival," Williams said. "The critics in the audience loved it."
"Darkest Night is one hell of a film!" said Filipino-American director William T. Jones, who was in attendance during the screening.
Photo: Russ Williams (right) at the FACINE Film Festival in San Francisco on Oct. 20, 2012 with Dr. Mauro Tumbocon Jr. (festival director). The film was VERY well received. It was a great time!
"So proud to have premiered your film in the U.S. Awesome experience!" said Dr. Mauro Tumbocon Jr., the festival director.
FACINE awarded Darkest Night its Valuable Contribution Certificate during the festival.
Williams added that congratulations should not only go to him but to all members of the cast and crew who have made Darkest Night an unqualified success, including the film's star, the Michigan-based actor DJ Perry.
The FACINE festival is open to all media artists of Filipino ancestry. Any number of entries may be submitted, regardless of genre, subject or format. Also, non-Filipino film-makers may submit works based on Filipino or Filipino-American subjects. FACINE is a US nonprofit organization that aims to promote and develop Filipino-American cinema. The festival is an important showcase of independent films and videos by Filipino-American and related media artists.
Darkest Night has an almost all-Filipino cast and crew. It was filmed on location in Manila and Floridablanca, Pampanga, Philippines. The film had its public U.S. premiere at FACINE.
Gothic Pictures International, founded in November 2010 by a group of film-makers from Asia and the U.S., has chosen as its primary mission to produce and encourage quality, international Gothic and horror films in an Asian setting or with Asian ties. The film company now has an office in Los Angeles. For more information on GPI, see our company page.
Here is a list of links to various websites that have given us write-ups. The list may not be totally up to date at any given time but will be updated on a regular basis. Also, please check out our site on IMDb:
Yes! Entertainment Magazine (November 2011): Manila, Philippines:
There was a general disappointment in the Philippines with the lack of critical response internationally, especially in the West. According to Noel Tan, the director:
If there is a disaster in the Philippines, and hundreds are killed, this is news in the West. But, especially in the U.S., Canada and U.K. anything good, like a good film, is generally ignored if it is news largely in the Philippines. There is a general attitude that if something is important mostly to Filipinos, then it's not really noteworthy anywhere else.
NOTE: The Darkest Night theatrical poster image is under copyright by Gothic Pictures International but may be appropriated and released by others under universally accepted "fair use" guidelines and the license: CC-BY-SA 3.0.