The Dark (2005)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment)
Genres: Horror, Supernatural Horror
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John Fawcett John Fawcett
Maria Bello Maria Bello
Sean Bean Sean Bean
Maurice Roëves Maurice Roëves
Sophie Stuckey Sophie Stuckey
Abigail Stone Abigail Stone

5.4 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: May 28, 2006
Adèle (Maria Bello) and her daughter Sarah (Sophie Stuckey) are two Americans who are going to go visit Sarah's father and Adèle's ex-husband James (Sean Bean), who now resides on the coast of Wales. They eventually arrive (after Adèle has a pretty creepy dream sequence), and both cast and audience alike get to breathe in some of the gorgeous Welsh landscape. Sarah reunites with her father, and we quickly learn that there may be more than just a little romance left between this former husband and wife couple as well. Everything is going wonderfully, until Sarah disappears.

The mystery begins when Adèle and Sarah go for a walk on the beach, and Sarah climbs out onto some rocks. She's out of her mother's site for just a few minutes, but when Adèle goes to find her daughter, she discovers that she is nowhere to be found. Thinking that she drowned, both her and James go searching for either their daughter or their daughter's body... but what they find is truly unsettling. You see, sixty years ago, a young girl named Ebrill died at this very location. How and why is eventually explained, but that explanation is best left for the film itself to reveal. Regardless, this young girl (Abigail Stone) shows up at this remote farmhouse, and Adèle believes that her sudden appearance has some connection to her daughter's disappearance...

Here we have a film that, at a glance, has a lot going against it. It was originally slated to have an American theatrical run, but those plans were nixed in favor of a direct-to-video release. It's yet another horror / thriller film centered around ghostly happenings involving a preteen girl. After watching just ten minutes of the film, you'll notice more than a slight resemblance to The Ring - another film with a somewhat similar plot. Indeed, all of these observations just scream out "bad movie" and "cash-in" to yours truly, but guess what: this was a solid, entertaining, and even chilling film.

There has been a lot of criticism about this film in online reviews, mainly revolving around the complex storyline and the even more complex twists. I hate to sound like an elitist snob, but if you thought that this movie was complex, you obviously haven't seen any foreign horror. While this isn't a mindless remake or a "check your brain at the door" horror and does require some effort from the audience to put the pieces together, it's far from complex. Granted, there are some plot holes, but no more than in other films; however, the overall storyline is tight and it unfolds at a brisk, refreshing pace and doesn't insult the audience's intelligence by spelling out the reasoning behind every last on-screen event. Here comes that elitist side of me again, but "refreshing" is the key word here - it was refreshing to see an intelligent horror that didn't require the use of subtitles.

Did I mention that this is a pretty chilling film? Indeed I did, but I think I should elaborate on that statement. During the first twenty minutes or so, this movie relies on the "soundtrack scare" - you know, where the sudden change in the musical score is more responsible for the scare than the on-screen events. However, after the movie finds its groove, the situation changes; director John Fawcett manages to set up some truly ominous scenes, and there are times where even though you know something is about to happen, it still manages to shock the audience when it finally occurs. Then we have that ending... I'm not going to spoil it, and therefore, I can't describe what happens. But the final pre-credits scene of this movie is ungodly horrifying, and it had to be one of the best shot scenes that I've seen this year.

Sure, this isn't a perfect film: the basic concept has been done to death, and a few of the scenes could have been tightened up. However, Fawcett has managed to take that concept, reshape it, and deliver it to us once again in a package that, while reminding us of other films, comes across as fresh and original at the same time. For that, I'm going to have to go with an 8/10.
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