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Movie Review by Clyde Baehr

Starring: Maria Bello, Sean Bean, Maurice Roeves, Sophie Stuckey, Abigail Stone
Director: John Fawcett

Horror seems to be on the up as a genre. In recent months there has possibly been a horror movie or other at your local multiplex continually. Horror has been perched confidently on the chart shelves in your local DVD retailer. Yet it doesn’t feel like a revival. Why? Because even in all its abundance modern horror fails to horrify. There is too much CGI trickery, too much heavy metal music, too many bad actors and too much irony.

For those of you who tire of this or have no stomach for it your first fright might be the sight of the name Paul W S Anderson creeping its way up the opening credits but before you run screaming from your seat expecting an onslaught of CGI monsters killing wooden actors its worth noting that Mr Anderson is only producer, and THE DARK, a mystery horror, avoids these pitfalls. It does not offer a knowing wink, torture you with Limp Bizkit, is subtle with any CGI set on the cliff tops of Wales and features some very real sheep and some decent actors. Unfortunately THE DARK is missing a good story.

Adelle (Bello) and her daughter Sarah (Stuckley) leave the US and travel to Wales where estranged husband and father James (a rugged Bean) lives in an old farmhouse on the cliffs. When Sarah is accidentally swept out to sea James heads the search for his daughter and Adelle begins to see and hear things in the dark. Then Ebrill (Abigail Stone) a young girl their daughter’s age turns up, who may have returned from a death fifty years ago.

Wales is a strange place, particularly to Americans. There are strange religious cults, strange sheep and even stranger Welshmen (Maurice Roeves as farmer and handyman Dafydd). For many this film will fall prey to too many genre conventions and the amount of false scares will frustrate. This is not slow brooding rural horror in the vein of THE WICKER MAN but a twitchy polished affair aimed not at the horror aficionado but the wider audience that includes women and teens, for people who want a scare, a cuddle and an extra large tub of popcorn.

Maria Bello’s Adelle is the everyday woman designed to draw in the female audiences. The mother and missing child theme has done very well at tugging at the maternal side as with THE OTHERS and THE FORGOTTEN and Bean himself is fresh from child hunting duties in FLIGHTPLAN.

Its 15 rating means it never gets too nasty. This is good Friday night fun, a movie unnerving enough to make you think twice about entering that abattoir at the foot of your garden. If you have one.

3 out of 6 stars