The Dark is a chilling ghost story loosely based on Welsh mythology. A good cast, nice direction and plenty of scares fail to make up for this cliche ridden and formulaic horror which is only sparsely entertaining.
The movie opens with Adele and her daughter Sarah going to visit James, Adele´s estranged husband and Sarah´s father. He is living in a remote cottage on the Welsh coastline in an effort to escape the world. A local man by the name of Dafydd helps him out with odd jobs around the place and is able to tell them of the dark history of the place. During this set-up process it becomes clear that Sarah is not getting on with her mother and there is a great deal of tension between the two which James is apparently unaware of.
Creepy happenings are not far away and kick in via dream sequences and strange occurrences. Dafydd tells them about the religious cult which used to live there and their leader The Shepherd who used to live in James´ new house. It seems this man persuaded his flock to jump to their deaths from the cliffs by the sea with the promise of reaching heaven. After just a day in their new surroundings Sarah disappears and her distraught parents begin a frantic search to find her. As James leads a search party to scour the coast, Adele investigates the history of the place and things take a supernatural turn.
The director here is John Fawcett, the man responsible for Ginger Snaps, and while some of the direction is nice he too often relies on tried and tested techniques for scaring the audience. Consequently you will often get a couple of fake scares accompanied by the pay off which always involves something or someone appearing unexpectedly and a flash of light with a loud music cue to make the audience jump.
The film is based on a book by Simon Maginn and the screenplay was penned by Stephen Massicotte. Sadly the plot is jam packed with familiar elements and inspiration from films like Ring is all too apparent. The characters are also easily boxed and the inclusion of the old guy Dafydd so that he can explain events is horribly contrived. The reveals are generally predictable and fail to have the intended impact.
The acting is very good but the flimsy generic characters don´t provide much of a challenge for the cast. Sean Bean is effortlessly convincing as James and he is probably the most likeable character in the film. Maurice Roeves did a good job with Dafydd making him almost credible but I found Maria Bello as Adele slightly grating. The two young girls, Sophie Stuckey as Sarah and Abigail Stone as Ebrith were both good.
The Dark does have it´s moments but there is little in the way of originality on offer here. The direction is not particularly noteworthy, the plot is shallow and contrived and the action feels boring at times. All in all this is a mildly entertaining ghostly yarn which fails to really grab the audience.