In The Dark Half Review

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Trailer
  • In The Dark Half film still

Score

If you go down to the woods today, you're in for a lame surprise... This microbudget rural thriller looks the business, but its story makes little sense.

Alastair Siddons' micro-budgeted supernatural chiller places an intriguing set-up on the table, as harried teenager, Emily (Jessica Barden), scuttles out of her dingy terrace in the Bristol suburbs and out onto the nearby meadows where she locates a dead rabbit, picks it up, then buries it in the muddy floor of a concrete shelter.

She's clearly got some issues: maybe it has something to do with the eerie desolation of her local community? Or perhaps it's related to the weirdo poacher who lives next door with his young son? Or maybe it's her maddening mother who seems to spend all her days smashing the house to pieces with an ultra-clumsy brand of DIY?

Siddons employs a smokey, washed-out palette to photograph his actors, and pictorially, the film has much to admire even while it's an aesthetic that feels more cosily suitable to the material than it does original or exciting. Yet, where the film falters is with regard to its story, or lack thereof.

Coming across like a confused homage to Don't Look Now, Siddons flashes up imagery that invites us to form wild narrative connection, though with each passing minute his film becomes more arduous to consume.

Without giving too much away, there's an event early on in the film that puts Emily's neighbour, Filthy (Tony Curran), into potential trouble, though because the element of doubt remains (planted, again, but the fractured, suggestive editing) you're never placed into a position where you want to actively invest in the drama.

At barely 80 minutes, there's so much dallying and dancing on the spot that precious little makes sense, leaving a final big reveal (which is not too difficult to guess) to dampen proceedings even further.

Yes, props to Siddons and his crew for creating a lot with a little, but with films like Kill List already out there, there's really no excuse for a story this militantly undramatic.

Anticipation

Jessica Barden, the best thing in Tamara Drewe, gets a starring role. Yes please.

3

Enjoyment

Textbook supernatural shenanigans, confusingly edited.

2

In Retrospect

Gives you enough faith to think director Alastair Siddons may go on to better things.

2
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