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The Dark Review

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A New Yorker bids to reunite her family by visiting her estranged husband in Wales. When their daughter vanishes, the couple must conquer a sinister supernatural power.

★★★★

Way back in 2000, John Fawcett’s debut, Ginger Snaps, helped revive the then ailing horror movie, his beguiling blend of livid lycanthropy and teenage misanthropy earning both film and director cult status. Sadly, having spent the last five years plying his trade on the small screen, it would seem he has lost his ability to traverse the big.

Here, Fawcett taps into the deep well of British mythology, drawing on tales of Annwn, the ancient Welsh underworld, as he reinvents Simon Maginn’s 1994 novel, Sheep. The latter wove an enticing tale of a family in crisis, employing a series of spooky threads. Yet where Sheep prospered — conjuring the excruciating rural-horror atmosphere that shivers through American Werewolf, Straw Dogs or The Wicker Man — The Dark wilts, shorn of its credibility by a director’s insistence on carrying us into a very literal take on the otherworld.

Its failings are made yet more apparent by a script burdened with tiresome twists and a blatant reliance on cheap scares, and while both Bean and Bello scream and bellow with as much ardor as they can summon, they never quite convince. Instead they fall victim to the jumbled narrative, stumbling through the movie until a curtain of untied endings descends to finally obscure any hint of coherence. One question, however, overrides all others: how did The Dark ever see the light of day?

An intriguing set-up is squandered by a muddled plot that lurches between thriller and chiller as it struggles to wrap up a multitude of plot threads.

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