Half Light
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr Craig Rosenberg
with Demi Moore, Hans Matheson, Henry Ian Cusick, Kate Isitt, James Cosmo, Therese Bradley, Joanna Hole, Beans Balawi, Mickey Wilson, Polly Frame
release US 17.Jan.06,
UK 23.Jun.06
06/US Universal 1h50

Another ghostly romance: Matheson and Moore

moore matheson cosmo

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Half Light This moody thriller is fairly strong on gothic creepiness, but not so good with actual thrills. It's an intriguing story, but the film is far too slow and lifeless.

Rachel Carlson (Moore) is an award-winning American writer in London, struggling to finish her latest novel, mostly due to her dying marriage to second husband Brian (Cusick). After an intense personal tragedy, she heads off to a remote Scottish cabin to recover, and to write. She befriends a local lighthouse keeper, Angus (Matheson), despite warnings from a crazy woman (Bradley) that something awful is happening. Indeed, ghosts seem to be visiting Rachel with rather alarming regularity. And her life may be in danger.

Writer-director Rosenberg clearly loves throwing in little details that seem to serve no discernible purpose. For example, Rachel refuses to write on a computer or even an electric typewriter, but this information never adds anything to the story, although it at least adds texture. And Rosenberg relishes images and sounds that create atmosphere, including a lavish orchestral score (by Brett Rosenberg). He also indulges in just about every freak-out device known to cinema, from the pronouncements of a mystic to rearranged letters on a fridge, a talking doll and even that old chestnut dream-within-a-dream shocker. The film also features one of the most sudden sex scenes in movie history.

Moore does a good job as the guilt-consumed woman who makes all the wrong decisions: moves to a scarily isolated location, starts a fling with a loner stranger, confides in a madwoman, the list goes on. At least she plays it straight, keeping the character as someone we can identify with and root for. And the rest of the cast give similarly measures performances.

Despite referencing Don't Look Now and straining for scares, it's actually just a gloomy romance. The use of ghosts in the plot is clever and unsettling, but the dialog is often rather corny, and the story progresses at a mopey pace with some painfully schmaltzy interludes. It's the kind of film that's perfect for female audiences on a rainy evening. Everyone else will wish they were, to quote one character here, at home eating scones.

cert 15 themes, violence 19.May.06

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Half Light Dara, net: 1/5 "The plot has been done to death and has no more life left in it -- the creepiest thing about the movie was Demi Moore, who has obviously had one too many face lifts." (26.Jun.06)
2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall