The Dark - Review
Review by Jack Foley
HORROR movies tend to fall into two distinct categories at the moment – ultra-violent and ultra-dull.
The Dark – which marks the first film from director John Fawcett since 2000’s impressive werewolf flick Ginger Snaps – falls into the latter category and, quite frankly, should have been left in the dark.
Maria Bello stars as Adelle, a single mother who travels from New York to Wales so that her daughter, Sarah (Sophie Stuckey) can spend time with her reclusive artist father, James (Sean Bean).
As soon as she arrives, however, she begins to get haunted by graphic nightmares featuring the loss of Sarah. The dreams quickly prove prophetic, as Sarah does indeed go missing during an expedition to the beach, prompting a massive manhunt along the shoreline.
But while James joins the search party desperate to find his daughter, Adelle remains at home and becomes convinced that Sarah has become trapped in some sinister parellel universe that is connected to a dark chapter in the region’s past.
When a strange, scarred girl named Ebrill (Abigail Stone) then appears in similarly mysterious fashion, Adelle places her sanity at risk in order to get some answers.
The Dark is based on Simon Maginn’s 1994 novel, Sheep, and is designed to provoke memories of classic supernatural chillers set in rural settings such as The Wicker Man.
Sadly, this tedious mess lacks anything to genuinely scare viewers and is more likely to leave them baffled come the drawn out conclusion.
Director Fawcett attempts to gain mileage by focusing a lot of the frights on another creepy child (in this case Stone) but a lot of his jumps are the result of sudden, abrupt flashbacks to previous events that are designed to catch viewers off-guard.
The supposedly unsettling presence of herds of suicidal sheep do little to heighten the chill factor, while the nods to Japanese horror classics such as The Ring (which also featured parents struggling to cope with difficult children) merely serve to make The Dark’s shortcomings all the more glaring.
It’s a real shame because both Bello and Bean are good actors who deserve much better material, while Fawcett fails to deliver on the promise he showed with Ginger Snaps.
The Dark is ultimately a totally ridiculous experience that doesn’t even have the good grace to deliver a satisfying finale that could have shed some much-needed light on the reasoning behind it. It is therefore one to avoid.
Running time: 93mins