I’m quite partial to a good old ghost story, and I suppose I ought to mention, as a disclaimer, that I quite enjoyed the 2006 Demi Moore film, Half Light, for precisely this reason. Mentioning that flop in the review for The Eclipse is rather unfair, however, as the latter has a charm and depth of character that came as quite a surprise.
Ciarán Hinds plays Michael Farr, a single dad who’s still coming to terms with the loss of his wife to cancer. It’s clear that he’s having trouble looking after himself, much less being there for his kids. Through his work for the local literature festival, he meets Lena Morell (Iben Hjejle), an author of supernatural fiction. The two form a bond of sorts at the same time that Michael is suffering from a rather nasty case of haunting.
The performances of Hjejle and Hinds as these two lost souls are quite wonderful. Though it feels like the role was written for someone a little younger, Hinds manages to make the taciturn Michael rather likeable, even though he is clearly ignoring his children. Lena is a naturally curious person, and it’s to the script’s credit that the film doesn’t overdo any notions of the burgeoning romance between the two.
As a counterweight to this touching tale, we have some pretty nifty scares. The Eclipse would have to be the scariest ghost movie I’ve seen since The Orphanage (El Orfanato). I should make it clear that the film isn’t wall-to-wall horror, and anyone looking for something to keep them terrified from beginning to end will be disappointed. All the same, the film gets quite scary. It’s greatest technique in provoking terror in its audience is that it often gives no warning before frightening the bejesus out of you. Anyone who’s seen more than a couple of ghost films knows that the biggest scares are usually heralded by dead silence – on several occasions The Eclipse gives absolutely no warning. And it works.
This was clearly filmed on digital, and suffers somewhat from the reduced picture quality. The cinematography itself is beautiful, and the film makes good use of a Steadicam, but often it feels like the gaffer was only interested in natural lighting. As a consequence, some of the proceedings are annoyingly under-lit, which is a pity.
The narrative is a strong mix of drama and the supernatural, though it leaves some questions unanswered and perhaps could have done with a slightly extended running time. Anyone looking for outright horror might find the film lacking, and those looking for a nice little drama might have the pants frightened off them, but for those – like me – who don’t mind a good mix of the mundane and supernatural, The Eclipse is great little ghost story.
The Eclipse is out now on DVD through Madman.Rating: