COMING HOME IN THE DARK is a brutal and relentless thriller from New Zealand. Even as you begin guessing what this might turn into, the movie continues to surprise and shock. We screened this thriller at Fantasia 2021. Read our Coming Home in the Dark movie review here!

COMING HOME IN THE DARK is a thriller from New Zealand that is bound to leave a mark on anyone who watches it. There’s brutality and cruelty to the story that feels dangerously realistic. If you’ve ever looked at true crime stories, then they also have exactly the same coldness (and sometimes backstory) as this movie offers.

This movie begins its line of shocking events, often in ways that are very tough, very early on. The movie premiered at Sundance back in January of 2021 and we screened it at Fantasia 2021.

Continue reading our full Coming Home in the Dark movie review below.

Powerhouse performances

While every single one of the actors delivers strong and nuanced performances, I was especially mesmerized by Daniel Gillies (The Originals) as Mandrake and Miriama McDowell as Jill. But again, you will only see very impressive performances in this movie, so while I highlight some actors, all of them deserve praise.

During this story, which plays out over a matter of hours, you’ll learn that brutality and cruelty can take many forms and be rooted in many different things. Sometimes it’s all about revenge and other times the failure to act can haunt us.

Coming Home In The Dark – Fantasia Review

Mandrake (Daniel Gillies) delivers a line early on that goes “When you look back, this will be the moment you’ll wish you’d done something.” When I heard that, I felt shivers down my spine because I could relate to the people hearing those words. It felt like a death sentence.

Whether the words did actually preface this, you’ll have to watch Coming Home in the Dark to figure out.

We watched Coming Home in the Dark at Fantasia 2021

James Ashcroft is the director and co-writer of Coming Home in the Dark which is his feature film debut. It is an intensely strong debut and shows amazing promise of things to come from this filmmaker. The screenplay is co-written by Eli Kent and based on a short story by Owen Marshall.

With a runtime of 93 minutes, it does actually feel longer but that just might be because you’re trapped in a living Hell where you feel for most (if not all) of the characters at one point or another. Full of shock and surprises, I got a lot more than I bargained for but all of it in a good way. Or, you know, brutal and terrible ways, but that’s what makes it work.

In the official program for Fantasia, it’s described as “Told with compassion – and without mercy!” which is the perfect description!

Coming Home in the Dark screened at Fantasia 2021 which is where we watched it. You should watch it when it comes out in select theaters and on VOD in the US via Dark Sky Films on October 1, 2021. Just be ready for a very tough story!


Director: James Ashcroft
Writers: James Ashcroft, Eli Kent, Owen Marshall (short story)
Stars: Daniel Gillies, Erik Thomson, Miriama McDowell, Matthias Luafutu, Billy Paratene, Frankie Paratene


A school teacher is forced to confront a brutal act from his past when a pair of ruthless drifters takes him and his family on a nightmare road-trip.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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