Fifteen-year-old Marie (Barden) is not getting along with her single mother (Marshal) or having a happy time at school. So she retreats into her dark and feverish imagination, making a secret refuge in a concrete bunker in the woods where she carries out strange rituals and buries animals. While babysitting for a six-year-old next door something terrible happens and Marie is locked into a spiral of suspicion, guilt and grief with her neighbour, worryingly named Filthy (Curran).
Ex-Coronation Street regular Barden (who played Kayleigh Morton) made her mark in the film Tamara Drew and carries her dramatic burden in this harrowing mystery well. Lucy Catherine’s screenplay and debuting director Alastair Siddons bravely tackle adolescent depression and the desperate need to cope with loss with this dark, disturbing tale. But while sustaining a fearful atmosphere of dread and mental deterioration the film dodges about between horror story, ghost story and psychological drama, which is, no doubt deliberately, very unsettling. Is Marie mad? Is she haunted? What is it in her past that she has buried or forgotten? The adult performers are also strong but Marie’s compulsions and all the torment are frustratingly teased out, while the shock twist revelation that finally comes is a blatantly derivative letdown.
Is In The Dark Half suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
There's suicide, a hanged body, the death of a young child, animals snared and shot…so not pleasant and not for the under 15s.