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RELEASED: 2006, Cert.15
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 111 mins
DIRECTOR/WRITER: Craig Rosenberg
PRODUCER: Simon Franks
MUSIC: Brett Rosenberg
Demi Moore as Rachel Carlson
Henry Cusick as Brian, Rachel's partner
Kate Isitt as Sharon, Rachel's friend
Hans Matheson as Angus McCulloch
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Rachel Carlson is a successful writer, living in London with her little boy and her partner, Brian. Rachel's house is by the towpath of a canal, and one day whilst she is busy writing, her little son wanders out of the garden gate (which Rachel accidentally left unlocked), falls into the water and drowns. Racked with guilt and finding it almost impossible to complete her latest novel, Rachel decides to take herself off and spend some time alone living in a remote Scottish fishing village.
Once settled in Scotland, Rachel familiarises herself with the not unpleasant, but rather distant locals, and is both intrigued and unnerved by a woman who claims to be a psychic, telling her (Rachel) that the ghost of her little son is beside her all the time.
Whilst living in the cottage yet still finding it difficult to write, Rachel not only suffers from disturbing nightmares and waking ghostly experiences, she also makes good friends with the local lighthouse operator, Angus McCulloch, and the pair spend a lot of time together.
As the storyline progresses, taking some unexpected twists and turns, Rachel finds herself in a position whereby she isn't sure what is real and what isn't.
That sets the scene, and of course to learn more you must watch it for yourself.
Right from the start, I became deeply absorbed in Half Light. I always feel the first ten or so minutes of a film are extremely important in that they can immediately draw you in, or leave you floundering...sometimes even cold, maybe not wanting to continue viewing, but Half Light straight away lends an intrigue that held my attention admirably.
When the film shifted to Rachel moving to Scotland, my attention was gripped further by spooky happenings, a deep sense of mystery and some breathtakingly beautiful scenery. I was also very impressed with Demi Moore's commendable characterisation of the grieving, guilt-ridden Rachel. I hadn't expected too much from Demi as despite her probably being best known for her role in the movie Ghost, she isn't an actress who I've ever found to be all that special or inspiring. However, in Half Light, she truly comes into her own and it's by far the best role I've seen her in to date.
Whether they were real or fake, I loved the gentle, lilting northern Scots accents of the locals in the fishing village, but none of those characters' parts are significant enough to make a judgment on their overall acting abilities.
Hans Matheson plays the part of the mysterious young lighthouse keeper, Angus McCulloch with flair, but I was very disappointed with the performances of Henry Cusick as Rachel's partner Brian, and Kate Isitt as Sharon, her friend. I found their delivery to be wooden, unnatural and not at all convincing. They injected little or no inflection into their voices and it sounded as if they were reading their lines from an autocue. In this particular film, it was above everybody else, Demi Moore who shone right out, carrying pretty much the whole thing on her shoulders...and admirably so, too.
One very commendable thing about Half Light is that there are a couple of very good twists, one of them being borderline outstanding. I can't really go into any detail about those twists, as it would count as a spoiler, suffice to say that one or two things turn out to be not how they initially seem.
Despite enjoying Half Light very much, and aside from the dodgy acting from Henry Cusick and Kate Isitt, there are a few little niggles I could take issue with. Firstly, I found the musical score to the film to be far too loud, to the point where it drowned out some of the dialogue spoken by the actors. Also, I felt it largely unsuitable for this sort of film as it came across as emotional and gushy, whereas I think something laid-back and creepy-sounding would have been far more appropriate. When the film was about two-thirds through, there were a few sizeable chunks where I felt confused as to what exactly was happening and why, plus I feel that the ending - once the delicious handful of twists had been exposed - was tediously predictable. I'm not quite sure how else the ending could have been, but I'd have preferred something different, more challenging and more thought-provoking.
Half Light does slightly remind me of Don't Look Now in the early part of the film, and in some other parts there is some similarity to the Irish psychological thriller film, Dorothy. There are also marked differences between Half Light and those two other films, but the similarities are strong enough to not be ignored. The early part of Half Light, when Rachel first travels to Scotland, made me wonder if the storyline would be similar to The Wicker Man, but thankfully it turned out to be completely different....that's not a criticism of The Wicker Man, as it's one of my all-time favourite films, but I prefer it when movies don't resemble one another too much.
All in all, and still taking the niggles into account, Half Light is an extremely riveting and entertaining, quite spooky in parts film that I'd like to watch again at some time in the future. I always find 'ghosty' type stories far more scary than monsters, psycho-slashers etc., and it is true that Half Light has its fair share of creepy moments, especially during the build-up. If you enjoy a good thriller/mystery which contains some scary/creepy elements and more than one unexpected twist, then this could well be something you'd be interested in, warts and all. I'd even go as far as to say that it's worth watching just to see Demi Moore most definitely in her element.
At the time of writing, Half Light can be purchased on Amazon as follows:-
New: from £2.60 to £12.00
Used: from 52p to £9.99
Collectible: Only one copy currently available @ £4.99
A delivery charge of £1.26 should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
I live in Japan, and, partially because I don't understand it fluently, all they show is rubbish variety shows, and I don't enjoy it much anyway, I rarely watch TV. Thanks to this gaping social hole I am left with a lot of time for movies. Unlike practically everyone I know I don't download them; I prefer to scour the video store, picking movies at random based on their covers. In Japan, often the names have been changed and the blurb on the back of the case is too complicated for me to read. I find myself watching a lot of trashy movies, but there is the occasional gem in there too.
This movie definitely falls into the latter category. I didn't even realise Demi Moore was in it until I put it on, but the story that unfolded was so good it actually surprised me to find out it had gone straight to video. I would have paid to watch it at the cinema, unlike a lot of movies I've rented, and some I've seen (most recently The Happening - just rubbish).
To begin with, as an expatriate, there were a number of aspects of it I could identify with that made me enjoy it more. Moore's character is a famous writer - I want to be a famous writer; its mostly set in on the rugged coast of Scotland - I grew up on the rugged coast of Cornwall, which looks pretty similar (apparently a shot from the film was done at a place called Millook, which is a particuarlly windswept part of the Cornish coast just a mile or so from where I live, although I was unable to spot it); and it stars Desmond from Lost - a show which has kept me warm on many a dark Japanese night (at least until it started to got a little crazy around the 4th season).
I don't like to summarise the plots of movies because I feel there's no point in watching it if you know what's going to happen, but the basic premise is this - Moore plays a very sucessful writer, who is married to Ian Cusack's character who is a fine editor but a failing writer. Moore has a child from a previous relationship and one day the kid drowns in the river (not sure if its the Thames or not) right outside their house. Their marriage falls apart and Moore heads up to a secluded, tumbledown cottage in Scotland in order to finish her latest book. There, she falls for a lighthouse keeper. At this point, things start to go dark and ghostly things start to happen. Is Moore's character losing her sanity, or not?
To say its a horror isn't really fair, because it isn't that scary. It has its moments for sure, but its more "ghostly-creepy" than out and out terrifying. I don't like to mention the twist because I for one didn't see it coming, and I think its better not to know about it, but safe to say it turns the story on its head, although there are few questions left unanswered at the end.
It's obviously low budget, and looks more like a TV drama (probably why it didn't get a theatrical release) and the characters at times come across as cliches - the rich beautiful writer (how many famous novelists are actually good-looking?!), the rugged lighthouse keeper, and the country bumpkin locals, but if you're prepared to forgive such things (I'm a pretty easygoing person to please when it comes to movies) then it won't spoil your enjoyment of the movie. And Ian Cusack is, well, Desmond from Lost. It's difficult to think of him as anything else, but the only thing I'll say is that he turns out to have a more significant part than you think he's going to have.
I'd definitely recommend this movie to horror fans who prefer an interesting story over gore - although there is a little bit. The plot leaves you thinking for sure, and even at the end you can't be quite sure what was real and what was not.
Overall, a decent enough movie for a night's enteratainment.
Recently one evening after I'd taken an exam, I had no revising left to do so I decided I'd have a night to myself, and watch a film. I decided to try out a website I'd heard a lot about, but never used before. Its called letmewatchthis.com and I was able to watch the film for free, without having to download it or sign up to anything first.
I typed the web address in the browser, then from the website I searched 'half light' and straight away I was able to watch the film. Although the quality wasn't as good as if I'd bought the DVD I was able to watch and enjoy the film without any interruptions from it buffering etc.
Characters and Plot
The main character in the film is a woman called Rachel, played by Demi Moore. She is a writer who lives in London but after her son tragically drowns in the canal outside her home she becomes deeply troubled and saddened by his death. Her relationship with her husband is not how it used to be, and she feels as though she really needs to get away everything around her and she decides to move to Scotland.
While she is in Scotland, she meets a handsome lighthouse keeper. His name is Angus McCullogh, played by Hans Matheson. He suggests they become friends as they are neighbours - although she has to travel from his lighthouse to her small cottage by boat which just shows how far distanced away from each other the houses at their village are. It is a small and isolated place.
I don't want to give too much away about the story but I will say that the characters are played well, and the story is thrilling but not too fast. Other reviews I read on this film say it is slow moving, but I don't think it is if you sit and watch it and I actually really enjoyed it.
It is a thrilling film which I think is a bit of a ghost story as well as all the other genres. It seems to me quite spooky. It is quite pschological as well.
The genres for this film in my opinion are thriller, mystery, maybe a bit of horror and at the start it seems like it might turn out to be a romantic but not so much at the ending which is quite gruesome compared to the rest of the film.
As I was able to watch this for free I was really pleased with how good a film it turned out to be. I really enjoyed watching it and would recommend it to anybody who thinks they like the sound of it. It might be a little slow moving for some but I'll describe a bit more about what its like now to give you some more information.
This was filmed in Scotland, and also Anglesey in Wales. The scenery is beautiful and you get to see some lovely views of the coast and cliffs in the area. Much of it is filmed on the beaches and around the lighthouse which looks very beautiful as well.
Some parts in this are very suspenseful and you can get quite concerned for the characters, although I won't go into any detail as I don't want to ruin the story.
The theme music in this film is very Scottish and I actually quite enjoyed it when it was being played. The character of Angus seems quite mysterious and charmful and if you know the handsome Hans Matheson and like him or Demi Moore as they are both great stars you will probably enjoy this film.
It was definitely one worth watching and if this ever comes on the telly I'll probably watch it again.
Rachel Carlson, a well-known American author, is devastated when her son drowns because she forgot to close a gate. Unable to function properly as a writer at home in London with her husband, she decides to move temporarily to a remote part of Scotland, where she hopes her creative juices will start flowing. Despite doing her best to avoid people, she meets Angus, the lighthouse keeper and they forge a friendship which quickly becomes a love affair. Then Angus disappears and all the locals tell her that Angus has been dead for seven years. Is she imagining things in her fragile state of mind? Or is someone out to get her; and if so, who?
I've wanted to watch this film for a while, despite mixed reviews, simply because it is supposed to be set in Scotland, where I have often been tempted to rent a small cottage and shut the world out for a few months. Much to my chagrin, I have since discovered that the filming took place in North Wales rather than Scotland. Nevertheless, the setting is still beautifully wild and remote and the film, although it has its flaws, is not a bad way of passing a couple of hours.
It is many moons since I have seen Demi Moore, who plays Rachel, in anything and I am disappointed to say that she looks almost as fresh-faced as she did twenty years ago. The fact that her hair is constantly tangled because of the gale force winds and she therefore doesn't look as perfect as she could have is her saving grace. That aside, I thought she gave a good performance as a woman half-mad with grief - and I found her acting around the death of her son to be flawless and utterly convincing. She may not be as famous as she once was, but she still has something, and it is not just her fantastic looks.
I also enjoyed Hans Matheson's portrayal of Angus. A loner, with few friends and not much inclination to make any, he is a somewhat eerie presence at the beginning of the film, but as he and Rachel warm to each other, he seems more approachable and understandable. His name would seem to suggest that his Scottish accent is a fabrication, albeit a very good one (to my ears at least), but in fact, he was born on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides - maybe he didn't need to act much at all! Whatever, I thought he gave a strong performance and I would be very interested to see his other work.
Half Light reminded me very much of two films: The Wicker Man and Double Jeopardy. The main link with The Wicker Man (and I am talking about the original starring Edward Woodward here) is perhaps obvious - both (supposedly) took place on remote Scottish islands, where the locals deter strangers and follow their own way of life. However, I think the wildness and the surreal nature of The Wicker Man can also be seen in Half Light, although the seventies flower power feeling is thankfully not present! Similarities with Double Jeopardy are more to do with the storyline - without wanting to give too much away, the rather dubious premise on which both films are based is similar, although not immediately obvious.
I thought the suspense was very well built-up. Once Rachel's son dies, it is no longer clear what is real and what is not - sometimes Rachel is dreaming, sometimes she is seeing things, and sometimes what happens to her is real, but all of this is mashed together so that the viewer is never completely sure what is going on. The darkness and wildness of her surroundings add to this, as does the presence of a woman in the village who apparently has second sight. Full marks to the director, Craig Rosenberg, who also wrote the screenplay, for the feeling of suspense - it really had me on the edge of my seat - for most of the film at least. Not bad for such a relative newcomer to film direction.
The main flaw in this film is that it starts well - I would go as far as to say incredibly well - but then suddenly grinds to a halt and becomes rather forced and hard to believe. It is at this point that Demi Moore is no longer the main actor and I don't think it is a coincidence; the characters that suddenly come into the story are not convincing and really don't help what is basically a rather poor ending to an otherwise good film. There were also some threads of the story which weren't tidied up - it isn't always necessary, but in this case, it left me feeling disappointed.
On the whole, I do recommend this film. It looks good and Demi Moore puts in a fine performance. I just wish that a little more thought could have been put into the ending, because, for me at least, it just wasn't satisfactory. Still, even taking that into consideration, this is a good thriller and a worthwhile way of spending a couple of hours. Recommended.
The DVD is available from play.com for £5.99.
Running time: 110 minutes
Classification: 15 (there are some scenes of a violent nature, but nothing too graphic)
When author Rachel Carson's (Demi Moore) 5 year old son is found dead in the river outside their London home, she is forced into a myriad of guilt and depression for leaving the gate open that allowed her son to wander down to the riverside. Leaving her partner Brian (Henry Cusick) behind, she heads for a remote village in the North of Scotland to finish her latest novel away from the distraction of her own guilt.
When Rachel arrives in a sleepy village in the North of Scotland, other than the ghost of her son and his rather spooky toys, her only companions are the telephone calls from her best friend Sharon (Kate Isitt), a stranger across the island known as Angus McCulloch (Hans Matheson), and a few mismatched villagers that range from the spooky to the mundane.
When Rachel begins an affair with Angus, the local villagers question her sanity as revelations start to unfold about what went on on the island that he resides. As the film draws to a dramatic conclusion, its revealed that Rachel's loved ones aren't quite what they seem, and neither are some of the villagers and islanders who she has come to depend on.
Throw into the mix is some psychic mumble jumble, some irrelevant gaelic chat that serves only to validate the presence of the traditional Scottish countryside, and a twist that isn't that predictable but in the end seems implausible and un-believable. The psychic element of the story is somewhat discarded an hour into the film, giving the impression that the screenplay writer forgot what they were doing or just got fed up with that element of the story.
The main cast consists of:
Demi Moore as Rachel
Henry Ian Cusack as Brian
Beans El-Balawi as Thomas
Kate Isitt as Sharon
Nicholas Gleaves as Dr Freedman
James Cosmo as Finlay
Joanna Hole as Mary
Hans Matheson as Angus
Demi Moore is on startingly good form as she turns in a fine performance that is out of place in this sleepy affair. Torn by grief and confusion, whilst questioning her sanity, she never falters. The support cast are reasonably decent, but quite honestly could have been any unknown actor from the BBC drama department. The sets are utterly gorgeous, but the disappointing thing for me as a Scot is that most of it was filmed in Wales. The sets are stunning, but on finding out that it wasn't filmed up North, I was a bit disappointed. Why place the action in Scotland, and then not use the amazing scenery that we have.
The film tries desperately to be something other than what it is, emulating in the process better films such as What Lies Beneath and The Sixth Sense. There are moments of scariness, but they come as the story builds rather than in the latter revelations. Supernatural elements come to nothing, making the film only watchable for the presence of Demi Moore, with any creepiness subsiding under the weight of its own stupidity.
This DVD is £3.98 on amazon, but you can get it for a much worthier 68 pence if you buy it from one of the used sales people on there. Add the postage and you're still not getting a bargain for this one. Especially given that there are no extras on it. The film runs for just over 105 minutes, and has a 15 rating attached to it.