- Ghosts of Empire Prairie (2013) Review

Title: Into the Dark

Also known as:

Year: 2014

Genre: Short / Independent / Drama / Sci-fi

Language: English

Runtime: 14 min

Director: Lukas Hassel

Writer: Lukas Hassel


In the future, two criminals are sent in two capsules connected by their backs, from the Moon to Earth as punishment for their crimes. We follow their last intimate minutes before the capsules hit the Earth's atmosphere.

Our thoughts:
Lukas Hassel is an actor, now turned filmmaker, who has shown his acting chops recently in some shorts by Jeremiah Kipp among other things. With "Into the Dark" he is not just the lead actor, he has also wrote, directed and produced the short film. Going by the simplistic nature of the short, it seems like a short that was made partially to experiment with making films himself, but also to show his acting up close.

The short film takes place in a small capsule that is going through space in high speed. In this fictional future, this is a punishment for certain criminals - to be sent in a capsule from the Moon, to crash into the Earth's atmosphere. Lukas stars as the criminal known simply as "58527", and his capsule is connected back-to-back with another criminal. They share their last minutes together, talking about things both trivial and existential. While we follow them in their journey to their fate, we find out more and more about the two, and ultimately ending in a big reveal.

For such a small film, "Into the Dark" has quite a lot of visual effects. While not great, they're still secondary to the film's personal nature. Most of the 14 minutes is spent with the camera aimed at Lukas Hassel's face, as he goes through emotions while his character is meeting his punishment. Lukas does a great job here, with everything from acting to the script. There was something a bit off with the other criminal's voice, who we hear through-out, however. It seemed like it lacked the energy and realistic emotion that you'd expect from someone in the situation. It was easier to believe that Lukas' character was indeed being trapped in a capsule due to a crime he committed, while Lee Tergesen's voice sounded like he was sitting comfortably in a studio recording it. This is what I got from it, but maybe there was something intentional that I just didn't get.

"Into the Dark" is a pretty good short film. There's nothing extraordinary, and I'm not sure that the end reveal was needed, but I appreciated the claustrophobic and personal atmosphere that Lukas Hassel managed to bring out. If it's playing a festival that you're going to, I think there are worse things you could do than watch this. At the very least - if nothing else - this works as a solid show reel for Lukas Hassel as an actor, writer, director and producer.

Positive things:
- Shows Lukas Hassel's skills in the fields.
- Solid claustrophobic and personal feel.

Negative things:
- The CGI. I don't really ask small films like this to have better CGI effects though.
- Not sure what I think of the end reveal.

Gore: 0/5
Nudity: 0/5
Story: 2.5/5
Effects: 2/5
Comedy: 0/5

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