Into The Light (2013) – By Misty Layne

Into The Light explores Chinese superstition and family ties. Into The Light, a lyrical and suspenseful new short from award-winning filmmaker Diana Rumjahn, recently nominated for Best Science Fiction and Best Film Awards at Film Festival Varazdin in Croatia, continues the tale of a mysterious woman threatened by a spirit from Chinese culture. A sequel to Rumjahn’s acclaimed 2011 thriller Determined Spirits, the new film finds the protagonist on a vital yet haunting quest to find her late mother’s diary in a dank lost-and-found company.  When an evil, dangerous woman gets in the protagonist’s way, ghosts and spirits come to visit. She must determine if they are real or imaginary, and if the diary is haunted. ~October 2012 Press Release

Clocking in just under 10 minutes, Into The Light has some of the necessary elements for a successful supernatural suspense film but manages to not quite live up to what it’s attempting to do. I don’t know if that’s due to the fact that I haven’t seen Determined Spirits but, on it’s on, Into The Light unfortunately doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Our protagonist, Ming, is on her way to some sort of lost and found storage company to find her mother’s diary and an old picture. Other than a voice over at the beginning, there’s not much explanation as to why but I think her aunt in a nursing home wanted her to go find it. When she reaches the facility, a woman first tries to hand her a gift, then yells at her for bringing a teddy bear inside. The woman also yells at Ming that she hates nice people like her. Then she sends Ming on her way to find the diary.

Ming searches the lost and found area that looks like your local thrift store might while a creepy guy hangs around watching her (he seemed to be some sort of security guard). She eventually finds what she’s looking for plus an envelope that has “4 Ming Lee” which is bad because in Chinese superstition the number 4 represents “to die”. Then the evil woman goes on a short rant about how evilness is everywhere and outnumbers the amount of good and also mentions Ming’s shiny hair. And then she presses a button on a remote and then Ming is headed to the nursing home to see her aunt.

I’m not really sure what happened here at all. The confusion may be because I haven’t watched Determined Spirits or it may just be that I’m missing something culturally that I’m just not aware of because while I watch a lot of movies from China, I’m no expert on their superstitions. I also wasn’t fond of the actors in the film who seemed to speak in mostly monotones. One thing I can say is that the cinematography inside the facility was really nice. One shot in particular had a lot of blues in it and once Ming was searching the thrift shop lost and found place, it almost seemed like a nice nod to Alice in Wonderland.

By no means did I hate this film nor do I think it’s completely terrible, I just have no idea what’s happening or what the point is supposed to be. Is the woman who yells a lot a ghost? Is the creepy security guard a ghost? Is Ming some sort of savior of the world in the battle between good and evil? Having some of these questions answered would, I think, make the viewing experience more enjoyable.

To learn more about Into The Light and more about Diana Rumjahn, you can visit her website.