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DVD Review

DVD cover

Down a Dark Hall


Starring: Uma Thurman, Annasophia Robb, Isabelle Fuhrman, Victoria Moroles and Noah Silver
Distributor: Lionsgate
Certificate: 18
Release Date: 22 October 2018

Wayward teenager Kit Gordy is taken to the Blackwood Boarding School, a huge mansion hidden at the edge of a forest and miles from anywhere. Joining her are four other troublesome individuals: Izzy, Veronica, Ashley and Sierra. Their first experience of something not quite right is the fact they are the only students. Madame Duret is the strict and uncompromising principal. Kit experiences some strange phenomena; a dark figure and a violent spirit. All too soon the girls acquire amazing talents in a particular artistic area. One becomes an accomplished painter – and begins signing her work with the initials of a famous artist. One becomes expert in formulaic equations, even though she barely passed algebra. As for Kit, she is suddenly able to play a complicated and vigorous concerto, when she hasn’t played basic piano since she was nine years-old. Kit is determined to discover the mystery of the house, what the disturbances are all about, and what is behind the off-limits door...

Down a Dark Hall is based on the book by Lois Duncan. I enjoy a good ghost story, but they are by their own definition slow-burners. This film gets around that problem by creating instant conflict; Kit’s conflict with her mum, her school principal, the curiously 19th century Madame Duret, and the four other girls – particularly Veronica. The pace is kept at a constant or increased by the appearance of a ghost or two. I particularly like the dark, just distinguishable figure at the end of the corridor, and the dark shape that quickly backs into a corner and disappears. This has much more effect than the multitude of ghosts seen later in the movie. I don’t know why some filmmakers believe that more of something is necessarily better.

I love the idea of Kit and the other students being vessels for dead artistes who believe their work to be unfinished. It’s also nice to see Uma Thurman in an older role, which proves she will have no problems in that area. Duret’s second-in-command, who acts as house keeper, nurse and bodyguard, is under-used when a plot point is set-up regarding her reasons for staying being forgotten – or at least not being progressed. It is understandably taken over by the prominence of Kit’s dead father guiding her.

Whatever I feel about a couple of loose ends not being properly tied-up, this is an enjoyable romp. It’s half classic haunted house territory, half Harry Potter – and I don’t even like the Harry Potter stuff. Often, the sign of a good film is you don’t notice the running time passing you by. This is one such example. However, I am disappointed by the absence of disc extras.


Ty Power

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