Maria Bello screams to little effect in disappointing, largely conventional horror item from "Ginger Snaps" helmer John Fawcett. Welsh-set scarer about a mother and daughter entwined in Celtic myth while visiting the latter's father is undercut by weak dialogue and a long wait for the horror goods, signaling a longer ancillary life than theatrical.

Maria Bello screams to little effect in “The Dark,” a disappointing, largely conventional horror item from “Ginger Snaps” helmer John Fawcett. Welsh-set scarer about a mother and daughter entwined in Celtic myth while visiting the latter’s father is undercut by weak dialogue and a long wait for the horror goods, signaling a longer ancillary life than theatrical.

Gothamite Adelle (Bello) journeys with young Sarah (Sophie Stuckey) to the remote old farmhouse bought by Sarah’s father, James (Sean Bean), on the craggy coast of Wales (repped OK by the Isle of Man). Already subject to bouts of hysteria, Adelle starts to lose it bigtime when Sarah seemingly drowns. Turns out there was a mass suicide off the same cliffs 50 years earlier, and when a mysterious young girl, Ebril (Abigail Stone), who supposedly died then, suddenly shows up, Adelle becomes convinced Sarah has gone to Annwyn, the Welsh equivalent of the underworld. Lumbered with especially sappy dialogue, Bean is wasted as the devoted father; best stuff, involving macabre human trepanning in a sheep abattoir, comes too late to add much oomph. Tech package is fine.

The Dark

U.K. - Germany

Production

A Momentum Pictures (in U.K.)/Constantin Film (in Germany) release of a Constantin Film presentation of an Impact Pictures production, in association with Isle of Man Film. (International sales: IS Film, Santa Monica, Calif.) Produced by Jeremy Bolt, Paul W.S. Anderson. Executive producers, Paul Tamasy, Steve Christian, Robert Kulzer. Co-producer, Robert How. Directed by John Fawcett. Screenplay, Stephen Massicotte, based on the novel "Sheep" by Simon Maginn.

Crew

Camera (Deluxe London prints), Christian Sebaldt; editor, Chris Gill; music, Edmund Butt; production designer, Eve Stewart; supervising art director, Andrew Grant; costume designer, Ffion Elinor. Reviewed at Edinburgh Film Festival (Late Night Romps), Aug. 24, 2005. English dialogue. Running time: 92 MIN.

With

Maria Bello, Sean Bean, Maurice Roeves, Sophie Stuckey, Abigail Stone, Richard Elfyn.
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