It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"In Darkness" is yet another movie in which Jews escape death in the Holocaust through the actions of a gentile with a conscience. They survive because he helps them hide in the sewers of Lvov; that's bad luck for the audience, which has to peer for too long into dim, rat-infested shadows and endure standard melodramatic typecasting.
Is there anyone who still requires this lesson on the evil of the Nazis and the resilience of human nature? "Schindler's List" (1993) said everything this film has to say, and much more. It was better directed, better written, better acted, and for that matter, more entertaining.
Is that a sacrilege, that I praise a Holocaust movie for being entertaining? The word doesn't imply that a movie need be cheerful. In my mind, entertainment in this genre springs from characters who are brought to full life, who we care about and who are set in a powerful story. My motto: "No good movie is depressing. All bad movies are depressing."
"In Darkness" is based on an extraordinary true story, chronicled in the book In the Sewers of Lvov by Robert Marshall. It tells of a small group of Jews who were found in hiding beneath the city streets by a man named Leopold Socha, a sewer worker. This Socha was no saint. An anti-Semite who before the war was exploiting and cheating Jews, he used the sewers to stash his loot and realized he could make money by selling food and supplies to these survivors. He used his occupation as an excuse to come and go in the Nazi-controlled city and even had a plausible reason to go down into the sewers.