Wide World of Horror: ‘The Dark’ – nonsense in the service of more nonsense

The Darkthe-dark-poster
Screenplay by Stephen Massicotte
Directed by John Fawcett
Germany/Isle of Man/United Kingdom, 2005

Much of The Dark fails to make any sense. This carries out through the resolution of the film, where the ultimate solution to the plot not making any sense is for the ending to not make sense. Horror can be ambiguous, there’s nothing wrong with a horror movie that plays in the realm of the nonsensical. However, there’s ambiguity with a purpose, and there’s a lack of being able to make your plot make sense. The Dark isn’t ambiguous, it merely doesn’t make any sense and Stephen Massicotte has no idea how to deliver a screenplay that makes sense.

Sean Bean and Maria Bello do the most with what they are given. There are sections of the film that are serviceable because of the work turned in from those two professional actors. Unfortunately as the film gets worse so do the performances of its two leads. Sean Bean disappears at a certain point, almost as if the actor and his character can’t deal with the inanity of the film. Miss Bello is less lucky as Adèlle becomes the focal point of the increasing ridiculousness. Having competent actors at the forefront of the film helps, but they can only help so much when they are stacked against a script that is determined to make nonsense out of nonsense.

The one strength of The Dark is the ambiance of the Moors. The film evokes the damp dreariness of that locale rather effectively. The colors are muted and the houses seem to shudder at the very thought of being drenched in more rain. In terms of location shooting John Fawcett really does capture what the Moors look and feel like. The atmosphere of The Dark is owed to its setting, but the film squanders its setting with cheap, and predictable, plot twists.

The Dark isn’t a horrid film, but it’s not a decent film either. Mr. Fawcett’s work does manage to establish a thick atmosphere. An atmosphere that it can’t manage to maintain due to a script that has no interest in working with the atmosphere. The film also makes the least out of its two able leads. When only one element of a film is working the result is a film that is less than satisfying. It also would have helped if the film had made a lick of sense. That never happens, and The Dark never moves beyond being a predictable cliché ridden attempt at a horror movie.

-Bill Thompson

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