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This is a really impressive piece of filmmaking until the end, when it just sort of splinters into a lot of random bits (including what look like stray cuttings from PRINCESS KA'UILANI?) It's too bad, because otherwise this might have been an eerie masterpiece standing alongside, instead of shadowing, SIXTH SENSE.
Jessica Barden is AMAZING as Marie; a weird 15-year-old living in a depressed suburban tract that backs onto "the hill," a large tract of undeveloped land that includes an abandoned bunker where she conducts burials for kills she steals from her poacher neighbor Filthy (Tony Curran.) Filthy entertains both Marie and his young son Sean with myths and folktales, but when Sean dies while Marie is babysitting, Filthy loses control while Marie becomes convinced that she is in communication with the dead. Increasingly estranged from her only friend Michelle (Georgia Henshaw) and erratic mother (Lyndsey Marshal,) Marie becomes convinced that Sean wants her to draw his father into the bunker.
Directed by Alastair Siddons, In The Dark Half is wonderfully weird, with terrific performances by everyone, atmospheric music, and effective cinematography. The script is a little all over the place from the beginning but this works at first, keeping the audience guessing as to the film's intentions; I thought this really worked for a while as it allowed the supernatural elements to creep in. Unfortunately it all began to fall apart once they are plainly in place, simultaneously telegraphing "the twist" without really setting up the rest of the finale to make sense. That doesn't necessarily make it a terrible film; it just left me feeling kind of disappointed.
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