Fan-made films showcasing iconic comic book characters are not new to the modern movie landscape. The affordability of modern filmmaking technology and special effects software has allowed a larger group of aspiring filmmakers to create works of passion that often can achieve something big-budget studios occasionally have trouble succeeding in: entertainment.
Perhaps the most popular Batman fan film in recent memory is Batman: Dead End - directed by Sandy Collora and starring the late Andrew Koenig (Boner from Growing Pains) in 2003. However, in the last few months several well-made fan shorts have also hit the interwebs including the awesome Danger Room Protocols (since shut down by Marvel), and Spider-Man Lives: A Miles Morales Story. Now we can add another quality short film to the line up - The Demon in the Dark: Batman vs. The Secret Six.
The Demon in the Dark was written and directed by married couple Matt and Letia Clouston and features an original score by Andries de Haan. From Gotham, to Arrow to The Flash, fans of the DC Universe will easily recognize many of the main characters present in the film: Thomas Blake, a.k.a. Catman (Matt Clouston), Deadshot (Brian Luna), Giganta (Dominique Swain), Banshee (Chantelle Albers), Scandal (Jamie Bernadette), Bane (Shon Lange) and of course, Batman (Matt Kohler). There are several cameos to notice throughout the film as well: Green Lantern (Lionel D. Carson), Black Adam (David Villada), James Gordon (Doug Penty), Amanda Waller (Brandi Huzzie), and Sgt. Steel (Marcelo Chow).
During a brief interview with writer/actor Matt Clouston, he told us that visually, they drew much of their inspiration from popular DC comics The Long Halloween, Batman: Year One, and The Ultimates (a Marvel miniseries published in 1994 that used a "man-on-the-street-perspective"). For the story, Clouston set it somewhere between the first two installments of Christopher Nolan's trilogy, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, "...in which Batman is seen as myth or monster (in no small part due to the Scarecrow’s fear toxin) and, ...where the citizens of Gotham suddenly seem to know the Batman is human and call for his public unmasking on TV."
We first discovered the Cloustons back in 2006 when they released their 7-episode scifi webseries, Broken Toy, under their label Forewarned Films. We found it to be an compelling original story with strong sci-fi roots and interesting, if rough, special effects. They've clearly used the last few years to work on their SFX skills, as all the CG presented here was done after they watched online tutorials - which makes them that more impressive. Additionally, the acting has greatly improved with Matt clearly becoming more comfortable in front on the camera, while his wife Letia has found confidence in her role behind the scenes as director. In fact, Letia was recently on the cover of the New York Times as part of Maureen Dowd's article The Women of Hollywood Speakout - read it HERE.
One thing about the short film we found confusing, is the inclusion of the battle between Green Lantern and Black Adam. While it's very cool to watch (at least Green Lantern's suit isn't animated), it feels like it was put into the film merely to show off their newly acquired SFX skills - it feels a little out of place in an otherwise great story line. However, it doesn't detract from the enjoyment we experienced while watching The Demon in the Dark. If you enjoy looking for Easter Eggs (there are over 60 in this film) and behind-the-scenes videos, you'll definitely want to watch the two additional videos Forewarned Films has posted below.