BY JOE X YOUNG
Coz Greenop pays homage to psychological horror.
There are certain things a reviewer encounters often in the course of their work and when you have seen thousands of films there are certain themes which crop up fairly often, the haunted lighthouse being one such example. It is an automatic assumption we know that they are somewhat foreboding, at their most basic they were created because too many people die without them, so they are generally a great setting for old sailors to come back from the dead, as in ‘The Fog’ or for ghost ships et cetera. A great setting is a great setting, that’s really all there is to it, but location is important too and Dark Beacon is set on the island of Jersey although as we see relatively little of the Island and so could be taking place on any of 1000 global coastlines. Does this detract from the film, well yes, as let’s face facts here, were it not for the village life in The Wicker Man (either version) there wouldn’t have been as much sense of evil. That’s lacking here too.
The film begins with the lovers leap, as let’s face it we do need to have some reason for the haunting to follow as that is after all what this film revolves around. The cast of characters being somewhat limited gives the film a forced focus as there are only really four people integral, to the plot one of which is Amy Wilcock played by April Pearson who may be considered the central character were it not for the constant shifts of importance. Beth played by Lynne Anne Rodgers has found her escape from a life of regret by giving up her city job, abandoning her lover (Pearson) and taking her young daughter Maya (played by Kendra Mei) to the lighthouse. Amy tracks her down and discovers that all is not well with the child suffering from a post-traumatic stress disorder following the death of her father, and Beth struggling to hang on to her sanity. There’s a palpable sense of rejection which is odd at first but becomes understandable in later revelations.
I’ve seen several lighthouse related ghost stories but to my recollection this is the first one in which almost everything happens during daylight hours, I’m not sure whether that was deliberate or even if it’s particularly relevant, there is a sense however that more tension could have been achieved if the dark atmosphere peculiar to the coastlines like the ones I’ve lived on had been allowed to show through. One thing I can say with absolute certainty is that the lighting and sound in this film are amongst the least intrusive I have ever seen, with everything being so natural looking which was almost as if we were not so much watching it as being there. The cinematography is top notch.
Something else which is perfectly natural and for the most part absolutely credible was the character of Amy, in so many films these days it’s obvious that the actors are just performing because there’s something fake about how they speak or what they do, but April person is 100% Amy. There is only one scene in the main body of the movie in which her actions seemed unrealistic, it is a scene where she is taking a bath, and say no more on that, you will just have to watch it to see what I mean. I found the rest of the cast to be adequate by comparison, though in all fairness I believe that to be largely down to the script as Beth had a lot of mood swings going on and was sometimes chewing scenery in a wide-eyed frenzy whilst Maya was for all intents mute and therefore limited in the performance she was capable of giving, which I suspect had she been in a speaking role would have been above average.
I’ve not discussed the plot in any great detail as there is not a lot of plot to go into, if you expect the crash bang wallop of a grave encounters or paranormal activity type of film you will be disappointed as this has more in common with the 1960s film ‘Tormented’ which I suspect this to be something of an unstated homage to. It’s not going to scare you out of your wits, but it is a slow-burner competently handled by Director/Producer Coz Greenop and his crew.
Winning multiple awards including Best film, Best actress for able person and best cinematography at the American horror film Festival, the cinema release is 22nd of March with the digital download being available 27th of March 2018 and is available for pre-order on iTunes and Amazon.