Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Dark (2005)

     John Fawcett directed one of my favorite movies.  Actually, it is the only movie that I wish I had directed (and I am not a director, nor am I anywhere near being a director), flaws and all.  That movie is not The Dark (2005).
     Not that I can entirely fault Fawcett for the problems I had with the movie, but his use of some of the camera techniques – and I am going to presume his hand is at work with some of the editing – that have been ruining modern horror films draws much of the moodiness and all of the etherealness from the film.  John Carpenter noted that he fucked up his version of The Fog (1980) by having it feel too grounded and solid.  The Dark may not be either of those, but instead of ghostly or dreamlike, it goes for washed-out color and moldy-looking.  Maybe that is Welsh Hell, but it isn't scary.  Worse, it isn't particularly engaging.
     No, the real problem comes from having a victim who just sort of is – Sarah (Sophie Stuckey) is both underdeveloped and unlikeable – and a mother (Maria Bello) who needs absolutely no nudging to full-on acceptance of the supernatural events.  That could work for me, but it would require setting the story around the beginning of the 20th Century, not the 21st.  There is no development of the mythology driving the supernatural forces.  Oh, and there is a prime assumption that sheep are scary.
     I do remember when this film was in theaters and how much I wanted to see it.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe it was because I hadn't learned that Sean Bean isn't given much to do in movies (at least not in the ones I've seen).  Maybe I thought it would be a slow, moody, psychological examination of a parent descending into madness because of the loss of a child (I think this is what the ads promised).  Instead, it comes across as a film that spent its budget in an odd fashion – those boat searching scenes probably cost more than any special effects sequence – with an obligatory unhappy ending.

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