The Dark Half Reviews
Executive produced, written & directed by George A. Romero I can't say that The Dark Half is a bad film because it clearly isn't but at the same time I can't but say I was disappointed. The script by Romero was based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King & is a fairly absorbing & engaging tale but didn't totally satisfy. For a start things are never explained, what is George Stark? How was he created? There are some vague suggestions such as the opening scenes of the brain tumour which is never mentioned or touched upon again throughout the remainder of the film to more supernatural reasoning such as Thad's alter-ego & literal dark half coming to life. Some may like this vagueness but personally I didn't think it did the film any favours & what's with the Sparrows? The character's are decent & it's well written for what it is but when I consider that Romero wrote the mighty Dead films which all included fantastic subtle social commentary superbly mixed together with wonderful horror & gore I couldn't help but feel something was missing in The Dark Half by comparison.
The Dark Half was made in 1991 but sat on the shelf for a couple of years because of the collapse of Orion Pictures & when it did finally see the inside of theatres it did nothing at the box-office. Somewhat surprisingly The Dark Half was one of only two film Romero directed in the 90's with the other being Two Evil eyes (1990) & he only directed half of that, it wasn't for another 9 years before he made another film with Bruiser (2000) which seemed a long time... He does an OK job here but the film drags in places & there isn't a great deal of style or gore, there's an exposed brain, a few splashes of blood & a fairly gory scene at the end in which someone has the flesh picked off their bones by Sparrows.
I was absolutely astonished to discover that The Dark Half had a supposed budget of $15,000,000, where on earth did the money go? There are no big name actors, no big action scenes, no explosions, no car chases, no big special effect scenes apart from some computer generated Sparrows, no exotic locations & nothing that would suggest that 15 big ones had been spent on it. Was this film part of the reason why Orion went bankrupt? Was this the reason why Romero didn't work again in the horror genre for 9 long years? Romero's latest film Land of the Dead (2005) only had a budget of $15,000,000 & The Dark Half was made 15 years prior, this is not a 15 million film that's for sure. The acting was OK but no one stands out, it's all rather bland & forgettable. $15,000,000? I just can't believe it, maybe I'm wrong, maybe all the money ended up on screen but I simply didn't see it. We give films a certain amount of slack for being low budget so there's no reason we can't criticise a big budget film when it fails to deliver.
The Dark Half is a decent horror film of that there is no doubt but with $15,000,000 in his back pocket & a string of absolute horror classics behind him I can't help but feel disappointed by The Dark Half, a real wasted opportunity. Worth a watch but nothing spectacular.
A watchable film, but not one of his best.
Directed by George A. Romero (Bruiser, Land of the Dead, Two Evil Eyes) has made an effected supernatural thriller. This is one of Romero's best work as a filmmaker. Hutton is extraordinary good in his dual roles. Micheal Rooker as the dedicated cop-Alan Pangborn gives a solid performance. The film was filmed in 1991 and released in 1993, due of Orion Pictures is now a deceased distributor. This film is based on a novel by Stephen King. King did write in another name for several years as Richard Bachman. This is a very good film that is sadly underrated. Don't miss this one.
Hutton plays a writer normally proud of his integrity, writing novels that receive critical appeal but little revenue, so he ghost-writes some action trash in order to make a fast buck. This is, of course, a Faustian pact, as Hutton soon finds himself cornerned by a guy onto his case. When a series of murders occur, he seems a likely candidate.
However, as with most King, the misdeeds are actually supernatural, carried out by an alter ego borne of said ghost-writing, and the assumed anger of the material. The theme is dealt with well to begin with, but hastily enters typical slasher territory, and even borrows a great deal from other, superior works, such as:
Tenebrae: writer influences/creates straight razor-wielding nutjob;
The Birds: avians as portents of doom, gathering gradually with Hutton's breakdown;
Misery/The Shining: writer's work seals own fate;
the work of David Lynch: killer is in fact a 50s bad-ass, his approach signified by inoffensive pop/rock & roll.
Not perfect by any means, but entertaining if one is willing to suspend sufficient disbelief. Hutton's Stark make-up is sensational.
There's a decent amount of gore, suspense is well crafted, an effective score and regular acting.