#5 - The Dark Half
(Spoilers in both Summary and Review)
Based on a Stephen King book, this movie stars Academy Award Winning actor, Timothy Hutton, and delves into the dark and twisted mystery of an author's pseudonym being brought to life and trying to kill everything that the author cares for. It is…The Dark Half.
I was on a big Timothy Hutton kick a while back, and came across this movie and decided to watch it on YouTube in parts. I was floored by the strength of Hutton’s acting, but I was also grossly intrigued by the story line that had been created by Stephen King. This is one of the more obscure Stephen King stories, unlike The Shining, the Shawshank Redemption, or Secret Window, all of which had all-star casts, and yet I find The Dark Half to be the most intriguing of any of King’s stories. Instead of outright horror, there is a fascinating philosophical and psychological aspect to this story. Every writer out there, including myself, has always secretly wondered what it would be like if one of our characters came to life, and this movie shows us how an aspect of that might come to pass and the possible negative repercussions that come with it. Instead of a character, however, it is this writer's pseudonym/alter ego that comes to life.
Interestingly enough, Hutton has not only been in this Stephen King film, but he was also in Secret Window as one of the antagonist characters. Though the two movies were made 11 years apart, The Dark Half in 1993 and Secret Window in 2004, they still have the same psychological thrill to them that isn’t found in many other movies, and the same style of sudden twists, though The Dark Half is a tad more on the horror and fantasy side of the spectrum.
(above) Secret Window (below) The Dark Half
This movie isn’t filled with color or an amazing soundtrack, or classically beautiful actors…instead, it has a bland color wash, right when fall is fading but it’s not quite winter, and it fills the viewer with the sensation that something is coming. Something cold, something dark... something that doesn’t quite belong.
From an artist's perspective(mine), this movie is a definite ten in using the color and music to give the viewer a feeling of unease and a vague sense of foreshadowing, that something is going to happen and it is not going to be good. All of these aspects, combined with the brilliant acting of Hutton, portrays a dark and uneasy terror that slowly grows throughout the movie.
The whole idea of an alter ego taking form and trying to become a person on their own is fascinating and frightening at the same time and I'm impressed with how it was portrayed in this film. Though gruesome at times and uncomfortable, I still couldn't help but be impressed by Hutton's portrayal of both characters, which makes this particularly unique. Hutton doesn't just play the author, but also plays the author's alter ego coming to life, so we are given a shining example of Hutton's acting ability and how versatile he truly is.
Excellent movie, though dark and morbid it may be, and now on my list of hidden gems in the horror/thriller genre. It hasn't been given nearly enough of the attention that it deserves, and now I want nothing more than to read the book myself.