Wednesday, October 23, 2013

10 Days of Stephen King: The Dark Half

Welcome back King fans to the 10 DAYS OF STEPHEN KING!  Day two is upon us, and on our journey through the twisted psyche of the King of Horror (see what I did there) we take a pit stop at one of King's most personal works...THE DARK HALF.

Stephen King is synonymous with classic horror films, such as Carrie, Misery and The Shining, all of which are held in high regard by King fans and film fans alike.  However, when asked to name off a few Stephen King films, The Dark Half is rarely on those lists.  Now, it's not that this movie is bad (I'm sure some would disagree), but it definitely could have been better.

Directed by horror master George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead, Creepshow), The Dark Half starts out strong, but gets a bit weaker as the story unfolds.  The film starts out in 1968, where we meet the young, aspiring writer, Thad Beaumont.  He begins suffering from headaches and seizures, and after a visit to the doctors, it is discovered that Thad has a brain tumor, or so they think.  Once the doctors open up his head, they discover the remains of Thad's twin who never developed and was absorbed at an early stage of pregnancy.  We then jump 23 years ahead, where we see Thad has become a successful writer using the pseudonym George Stark.  When he decided to "kill off" Stark, unspeakable horrors begin to take place, and a man calling himself George Stark appears.

Thad Beaumont is played by the talented Timothy Hutton, best known for his role as Nathan Ford on TNT's Leverage.  Being one of Hutton's early works, it's nice to see him extend his range in this film.  His on screen presence kept me interested throughout.  Playing his wife, Liz, is Amy Madigan (Field of Dreams, Gone Baby Gone).  She plays a strong, centered woman, while still showing concern and worry for her husband.  Playing the slightly over-trusting Sheriff Pangborn is the always wonderful Michael Rooker of The Walking Dead fame.  

I have to admit, at the beginning, I had moderately high hopes for this films.  It starts off strong, keeping Stark in the shadows, where his real terror exists, but once he's revealed, the story gets a bit convoluted and unnecessarily complex.  I'm left with several questions, mainly about Stark, like is he an evil twin? A psychic projection? An evil spirit manifesting itself?  It's left somewhat unclear.  Also, the final act of the film seemed rushed and not fully thought through.  

This is a film that I would love to see a remake of done, though due to its poor reception, critically and at the box office, and it's similarity to another King film, Secret Window (coincidentally, co-starring Timothy Hutton), we'll probably never see it.  If you haven't seen this movie, check it out, decide for yourself.  For me, it fell flat, but perhaps you'll catch something I missed.

Josh's Rating:  5.5/10

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