Down a Dark Hall may contain an interesting, supernatural based, premise, but it leaves you feeling it could have given more.
|Screenplay By||Mike Goldbach, Chris Sparling|
|Genre(s)||Horror, Drama, Mystery|
|Good If You Like||Horror Movies Featuring Young Girls|
Supernatural Horror Movies
Dramatic Piano Pieces
|Madame Duret||Uma Thurman|
|Mrs. Olonsky||Rebecca Front|
For five girls, all troubles in one form or another, Blackwood is presented as a last chance. Which, for some, is a welcomed opportunity and others, just another hell. However, Madame Duret tries to make things comfortable. Albeit without electronics or the internet but, without those things, the girls can focus – excel even.
Which they do. We see Izzy, someone who failed algebra in school, become a prodigy; Sierra, too, but in art; and Ashley in literature. As for our lead, Kit? Thanks to the tutelage of Madame Duret’s own son, Jules, we are led to believe he has led her to becoming a master of the piano. A surprise to her since she hasn’t touched one since her dad died, around the time she was 9.
But, how can these children, who never really excelled at anything, besides being a problem, become so talented? Well, let’s just say Madame Duret has some help from the other side. However, remember this is a horror movie and not one geared towards children. So, when I say help from the other side, don’t take it as Harry Potter-esque apparitions who are friendly and comical. While not all sinister, these spirits definitely want these girls for selfish, if not ill, intentions.
Other Noteworthy Facts & Moments
- This film was produced by Stephenie Meyer of Twilight fame.
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- So who was the evil spirit with the burnt face? What musician was he?
It Can Be Rather Unnerving At Times
One of the things which makes any horror movie good is knowing silence, or how the sound of instruments, works so much better than people talking. Well, unless in whispers. And with watching this in the middle of the night, headphones on, the whispers, the subtle sounds, it creeps you out a little bit. Something which Mrs. Olonsky, a member of Madame Duret’s staff, helps with. For while she brings a generic eastern Europe cold persona, once you see her mess up the 5th girl, Veronica, who seemingly doesn’t pick up a talent, you feel put on notice.
Then, as each girl seems to find themselves losing who they are, and a sense of time, to their passions, almost becoming vessels, you are led to wonder how some of these moments played out in the book.
The Piano Music
There is something about the piano music in the movie which truly is strong enough to be a highlight. It moves you in ways that make you want to look up the name of the pieces. Also, out of each girl’s talent, it is the only one presented in a way which can be both alluring to watch yet allows Robb to maintain how freaky the place is. That is, unlike most of the girls who just succumb to their gift and seemingly wither away.
Surprisingly, You Might Find Yourself Emotional
The film doesn’t dig into the troubles of each girl much. We learn Veronica’s mom was beaten when she was 13 and Kit’s dad died in an accident when she was 9. Outside of those two, everyone is just a name and a talent. With that said, strangely, you may get emotional over Kit’s connection to her father. Not to the point of crying, but maybe feeling like you are welling up a little bit.
On The Fence
You May Need Subtitles To Understand Madame Duret
To watch this movie without subtitles is like listening to a foreign language which, for some words, they have to rely on English because there is no word for something in their language. For some characters, like Mrs. Olonsky, you can get by with their accent, same goes for Jules. However, Thurman takes it to the next level and with that, while you can understand her, in the process of deciphering what she is saying it takes away from her performance. For while Thurman has a bit of a presence, your eyes are shifting between reading what she is saying and noting what she is doing to the point she loses most of her oomph.
It’s Not Necessarily The Best Story Out There
As noted above, most of the characters don’t get developed. We learn about Veronica and Kit the most. Everyone else is one or two facts. Like Mrs. Olonsky having a son who died and Madame Duret’s formerly having a man and her son, Jules, going to a prestigious school. But, for the most part, details you may wanna know, which would enhance your investment in Sierra, Ashley, or Izzy? We don’t get that. They just fill rooms and suffer until they suffer no more.
And even when Kit starts digging around for information, while the silence benefits the tension of being caught, her lack of saying or finding anything makes it so the risk doesn’t equal a reward of significant value. Leaving us barely knowing a thing about anyone and you wondering how much of the book wasn’t touched at all. Even when Madame Duret’s reasoning becomes clear.
Overall: Mixed (Divisive)
The main issue with Down a Dark Hall is that it focuses almost solely on the actresses most people know, and everyone else just fills the roles from the book. With that, you feel a disconnect to most characters and find yourself not being fully immersed in the movie. For really, why should you care about a girl going insane if you know only their name and one or two facts about them?
But what really pushes this movie to be mixed is because, even with most of the supporting cast lacking development, and Thurman putting on her accent a bit too thick, Robb makes it work. Her story makes this strong enough to rent and watch. For she brings a sense of fear and emotion that, sadly, the rest in the film aren’t given the room to do.
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