the dark | craig pryce | robert c. cooper | stephen mchattie | scott wickware | brion james | sci-fi | canada | monster | creature | lovecraftian | desmond campbell | dennis o'connor | jaimz woolvett | cynthia belliveau | bruce beaton | thick wilson | neve campbell
Film: The Dark
Director: Craig Pryce
Writer: Robert C. Cooper
Starring: Stephen McHattie, Scott Wickware and Brion James
This is a movie that I had never heard until I was working my way through a horror movie encyclopedia. It has been helpful in finding some of these lesser known titles that are a bit more obscure when rounding out my viewing history. I was impressed to see Stephen McHattie’s name listed for it. Aside from that, I came in pretty blind except for reading the little blurb that went with it. The synopsis here is something is alive beneath the surface of the graveyard, something with the power to destroy and the power to heal. One man is determined to kill this mysterious creature while another wants to study it.
We start this movie off with a man drunk in a cemetery. He is Gary ‘Hunter’ Henderson (McHattie) and he’s at the grave of his deceased wife. It is raining and he is drinking away his sorrows. Also in this cemetery are two FBI agents, one of them being Paul Buckner (Brion James). They are hunting something. Things don’t as planned as Buckner’s partner is taken and Hunter ends up shot. He is then taken into custody where he’s roughed up by Buckner and told to forget what happened in the cemetery.
The movie then jumps 2 years later. Hunter is driving long distance and we see that Buckner is following him. Hunter ends up at a small diner where the waitress, Tracy (Cynthia Belliveau), is coming on to him. There is a biker there, Bruce Beaton, who is rude and wants her attention. When he gets too unruly, Hunter steps in. The biker isn’t alone and it ends in a shoot-out. Hunter and Tracy flee together, but are now on the run.
We then get to meet two of our other characters. Jake (Dennis O’Connor) works at this cemetery from the beginning and Ed (Jaimz Woolvett) is an apprentice of sorts. He is a bit green with the job and Jake mocks him. They notice something weird going on in the cemetery though. A tombstone falls into a tunnel underneath it. The men both fall into holes as well. We get to see that there is something living down there and it is big.
Everything converges here. Hunter and Tracy arrive with him wanting to capture this creature. Buckner wants to kill it. Jake and Ed call the local police as to what is happening, which includes Jesse Donovan (Neve Campbell) who is a young deputy. It becomes a night that none of them will forget as they come face to face with this very old and pretty much undiscovered until now creature.
I think that gets you up to speed with what the movie is doing. Where I want to start is with the positives. The first would be that I can get behind the idea of this movie. It isn’t all that original here with an unknown creature living under the ground. What I do think is interesting though is that it has healing properties from a liquid that it excretes. Hunter uses it for a wound he has and he also uses it on another character later. He is a doctor, so I could see him wanting to study this creature for this reason. An issue I have here though, his plan is pretty weak.
What is interesting here as well is the character of Buckner. I find it so becuse he just wants to destroy the creature. He is part of the FBI I believe. Usually you have the hero wanting to either kill the creature or preserve it. Since Buckner is our villain, I feel like they usually have some maniacal plan, but the extent of his is really just to kill this thing. I don’t hate this playing with the conventions of what we are used to for a movie like this.
Then the last part of the story would be creature itself. I think there are some good aspects and some that don’t work for me. This is supposed to be prehistoric animal that didn’t die out. I’m assuming there had to be some evolution for it since it has fur. To be honest it looks like a giant rat or even a werewolf to an extent. I do know that Hunter states whatever this is; the fossils they found never got to be this big. Being that it has fur, it would have to have evolved to fully work since dinosaurs didn’t have hair. I do like this element of this goo it has that speeds up healing in humans. There are also some definitely Lovecraftian vibes here as well.
Where I think I’ll go next would be the effects. I will admit that the copy of this I saw wasn’t in great shape. I’m assuming it was ripped from VHS which would explain that. What I could see of the creature I thought was good. The back-story we get I think is lacking a bit for what we see, but the more I think and break it down, the better I am with it. Everything here looks to be done practical, which I’m always a fan of. I do think they needed a bit more blood though to bring the realism to what they’re doing.
Next will be the acting. I do have some negatives I’m going to incorporate here as well. Before going there, I think McHattie is solid. He’s such a good actor so it is wild to see him in movies like this when he was younger. From there I would say that James plays this villainous character well. O’Connor and Woolvett are both fine. They bring a bit of comedy. Belliveau plays a pretty clueless character. Really aside from McHattie, Campbell is the best performance which shouldn’t be surprising. I don’t want to necessarily blame the acting though. I do think the movie is lacking a bit with the characters so they come out flat to me.
In conclusion here, I think that this movie does have some good aspects. The idea of this creature is one that I like. By having movie take place in the cemetery works for the spooky vibe and the effects of the monster work for me. McHattie and Campbell have solid performances while the rest are a bit flat. The movie really just is lacking with the character motivations and I think this comes from the writing to be honest. I just don’t think there are enough elements there and I don’t really buy in. That brings me with seeing this as a below average movie for me. I cannot really recommend it unless you want to see the actors I highlighted earlier in their careers or the creature effects. Not enough humor though to watch this with friends while drinking in my opinion either.
My Rating: 4 out of 10