When recovering alcoholic Karen and her husband move into a new house she starts seeing visions of the terrible unsolved murder that took place there years earlier. Unfortunately the killer is still walking around free and has decided that since she is close to solving the murder thanks to the visions that Karen must be the next to die.
Even though Dark Sanity (aka Straight Jacket ) is more of a murder mystery film than a straight up horror flick I still liked it. Yes, it is cheesy as hell at times, the acting is less than ideal, and it is just like any other film of its kind that came out in the late 70’s early eighties but for some reason I honestly can’t put my finger on I dug it (aside from what happens to the cat toward the end which is stupid and totally unnecessary). It isn’t a perfect film but it works and isn’t a bad way to kill 90 minutes if you don’t have anything better to do with your time.
One of the things that work for the film is the fact that you don’t have any idea what is happening to Karen is just in her mind or if it is really taking place in reality. She keeps having these visions of this person dressed all in black attacking her with an axe and for most of the movie we don’t know if the visions are real or if she’s just nuts. Of course her husband (who is a total and complete asshole, more on him later) doesn’t believe her and is convinced that she’s either just making it up for attention or that she’s lost her ever loving mind due to the fact that she ‘s suffering from alcohol withdrawal. So what exactly are they? Are they actual visions of the past? Warnings from the future? Do they only exist in Karen’s warped little mind? I’m not saying because trying to figure it out is part of the fun of watching the movie (if you’ve seen the horrible Charisma Carpenter film Psychosis or the segment from the truly awesome 80’s flick Screamtime called “Dreamhouse” you’ll figure it out pretty quick though).
I also liked the fact that you have to figure out the identity of the mysterious person in black who keeps threatening Karen that is responsible for killing the woman who used to live in the house. I always enjoy a little mystery and I had a good time figuring this one out before everything was said and done. I’ll admit that it is relatively easy to deduce the identity of the killer (it is pretty obvious early on and doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess who the guilty party is) but that didn’t make things any less enjoyable for me while I was watching it. If you like easy to solve mysteries (like I do because they make me feel a little bit smarter) then this movie is for you.
On the downside the movie had a few weaknesses as well. One of the biggest problems it had was without a doubt the characters. Karen (Kory Clark) is pretty damn annoying and her whining and constant mood swings got pretty old pretty fast. I had trouble feeling any sympathy for her and she got on my nerves for the most part. Her husband (played by Chuck Jamison, who really phones in his performance) is without a doubt the most unlikable character in the entire movie. Not only does he constantly yell at Karen and criticize her for every single thing she does he also has an uncaring attitude when it comes to her battles with alcoholism and blames her for everything that happens to him (including losing his job at one point even though he is entirely at fault). Hell, at one point he even brings several bottles of whiskey into the house and gets drunk in front of her (which is a great idea considering that she is a recovering alcoholic).
He is an asshole in every respect and I couldn’t wait to see him die in the most painful way possible (you’ll have to watch the movie to see if I got my wish). The rest of the cast is made up of a cookie cutter police detective fired from the force who is obsessed with solving the murder that took place in the house (mostly because he was banging the woman who died on the side), your typical red herring creepy gardener, and the annoying nosy couple who live next door (who are both in love with Karen it seems as they keep talking about how hot she is almost every time they pop up on camera).
Dark Sanity isn’t for every taste. If you want to watch a full-blown horror film full of blood, guts, and gruesome death scenes you are probably better off skipping this one. On the other hand if you are in the mood for a light suspense/thriller with a hint of light mystery to it then give it a shot. Check it out if you haven’t seen it, it may be right up your alley.