The day to day life of a barista is a pain in the ass as it is. Throw in a cheating boyfriend, a female stalker, and a growing pile of bodies somehow all attached to you, things look a little dire. That’s just the case for poor Iris in Derek Talib’s action thriller DARK IRIS.
DARK IRIS starts up with an Linux screen, logging us into a classified site, giving us info about a secret government program of assassins with beefed up DNA with a tendency to violently burn out. Those that remain are now missing and actively hunted by government officials, bounty hunters, and mercenaries. And our girl Iris has one of them keeping tabs on her and those involved in her life.
There are plenty of stories about genetically enhanced assassins that their government has lost control of. Almost so many that it boggles the mind that an actual news story of this sort hasn’t popped up. Normally, with this story, it can be too focused on the science behind it, bogging down the pace, or not focused enough, leaving it in almost as an after thought. In DARK IRIS, the writers did a good job of sprinkling the reasons and tools throughout, without being heavy handed.
I came to this film having known Marylee Osborne’s work and knowing that she had a central role to the story. And having seen her evolve in her roles throughout horror and comedy, it was great to see her tackle a more serious character and get some action in. This isn’t a film where there are a ton of stunt performers, so each actor is pulling off these fight moves. And I’m glad to say that Marylee tussled with the best of them!
My one complaint is with the casting of the women characters. Not for the fact that they weren’t strong actors. They all were. But they all looked very similar, minus Ms. Osborne. This led to a little confusion as there were multiple seduction/assassinations from darkly haired women that looked similar. Once they spoke it was obvious, but in some cases that wouldn’t be for a few minutes into a scene.
When it comes to casting of federal agents and action toughs, I’ve seen a lot of wacky casting that doesn’t make sense. Just because your friend is tall and overweight, doesn’t mean he’ll be intimidating. That is thankfully not the case in DARK IRIS. The majority of the mercenaries and Feds were JACKED! I would be a little timid if someone approached me with arms thicker than my thighs, even more so if they were holding an assault rifle. Little details like this added to the full production value of the film as you want to believe that henchmen should be musclebound but not dim witted as well.
Speaking of little details, there were various notes added in to enhance the experience. Use of score in film to affect a scene is common, but to actively manipulate a scene with a song is all the more impressive as they did in DARK IRIS. Following a seduction, a character inhales tainted cocaine, leading to a warping of the music playing as they start to experience the effects. Also, be on the lookout for a tattoo of the i71 Films logo in this scene.
Rebekah Hart Franklin dominates the screen whenever she shows up as Iris’ mysterious shadow. My only wish is that she was given more screen time, as it is very limited until the last portion of the film. That being said, we do see a lot of Kyle Hotz and Jesi Jensen, as Damien Crow and Lena Petrov, a pair of special agents for MI-6. I thoroughly enjoyed their chemistry together as well as the ability to take command in a room convincingly. I could watch a movie just based on their adventures.
For a lower budget film, creators have to be inventive to get the most of their money. And with DARK IRIS, they had a strong script, a hell of a foundational cast, and everyone chipped in beyond just acting. Going through the credits, almost every person in front of the camera helped out off screen as well. From helping with the production, heading up casting, or even providing the music used throughout the film, this was a family affair, and the passion behind it truly paid off.
DARK IRIS just recently had its world premiere at Gateway Film Center in Columbus, Ohio, and is also being marketed at the Cannes Film Festival marketplace. Be on the lookout for further release information at the official Facebook page for DARK IRIS!