Movie Review: The Dark Half (1993)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1993 thriller starring Timothy Hutton and Amy Madigan.

Synopsis: Well-respected author Thad Beaumont has a secret. While he has had limited success selling the books he wrote using his own name, the suspense thrillers he secretly writes under his pen name, George Stark, are best sellers. However, when a blackmailer threatens to out him, Thad decides it’s time to give up his alter ego and symbolically buries George in his family’s cemetery plot as part of a magazine article. Unfortunately for him, George, refusing to die, soon begins killing everyone involved with his decision to part ways.

Who's in it?

Review

My wife was in the mood for a horror film last night and specifically requested one that was actually scary (something that hasn’t been the case with most of the films we’ve watched recently). I had some doubts about this one. But, it sounded somewhat interesting and I decided to give it a chance. Overall, I have to say it was a good decision.

The thing that really surprised me about this movie when I first started watching it was it wasn’t as predictable as I was expecting it to be. Based on the description and the first several minutes of the film, I figured it was going to simply be yet another movie involving a character with a split personality. In fact, there are times in the movie when it seems to go out of its way to make the viewer believe that is going to be the case.

However, as the movie progressed, it became apparent that wasn’t the case, primarily because the murders were taking place in New York while Thad (Hutton) was home with his family in another town. And, even when it was revealed George (also played by Hutton) was a real person, there was still a major mystery about how exactly the previously fictional person came to life (and, to be honest with you, I’m still a little confused about that part of it).

Another pleasant surprise when it came to this movie was the fact it did manage, at times, to be much more suspenseful than I was expecting it to be. George, among other things, was very creative when it came to killing people and that, combined with the fact he was very violent and had no remorse, created a good combination. It was hard to tell what was going to happen next whenever he was in a room. This did keep the movie from becoming too predictable as a result of that.

Unfortunately, I wasn't too crazy about how this movie ended, mostly because there wasn't much in terms of closure. It ends with Thad still the primary suspect in multiple murders and with some pretty damning evidence against him. Even with Sheriff Pangborn (Rooker) witnessing Stark's demise, I'm not sure his testimony would be very believable and, without Stark's body, I just don't see Thad being able to convince a jury he's innocent. 

And, what of his post-Stark career as a writer? Does he have success writing under his own name or did losing his dark persona also mean the royalty checks stopped coming in? While I still liked the movie, it would have been nice if it would have taken a couple extra minutes to answer questions like that instead of just ending with everything unresolved.

The Dark Half [Blu-ray]

Masters of horror Stephen King and George A. Romero have created a "gripping, creepy, frightening", (L.A. Reader) film that "thrills, shocks and works us over", (Los Angeles Tim...

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Final Opinion

I, admittedly, had some doubts about this film when I first started watching it. But, other than the ending, it did turn out to a decent psychological thriller with plenty of intense scenes and violence mixed in. I don’t know if I would say it was the best horror/thriller I’ve ever watched but it was still entertaining.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 09/11/2015, StevenHelmer
 
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