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The Eclipse – 7

Director – Conor McPherson

Cast – Ciarán Hinds, Iben Hjejle, Aidan Quinn

Release Year – 2009

Reviewed by John of the Dead

I stumped upon this Irish horror film randomly, and after giving the plot a quick look I decided this was worth a shot due to my love for “haunting” films.  We have been given horror/romance films many times before, and while this one’s title bears resemblance to a horrible “horror”/romance sequel, this is nothing like that crap.  It has been a very long time since my last good jolt of a scare(not since 2002, thanks to the original version of The Eye), but I can say that the wait is over, as this flick gave me some great quality scares that I never saw coming, nor will I ever forget.
The Eclipse follows Michael Farr(Ciaran Hinds), a widowed former-writer managing a writing conference in his sleepy seaside Irish town.  He falls for prominent horror novelist Lena Morelle(Iben Hjejle), and soon after he experiences strange phenomena in his home that leads him to believe he is seeing ghosts.

From what I have said about this film’s scares you would think this is in fact a great horror movie, but actually…I cannot say that it is.  This is a great movie, yes, but a great HORROR movie…that is up to you.  The romance level of this film definitely outweighs the horror in this one, by a margin of roughly 85-15.  Simply put, it seems acclaimed Irish playwrite Conor McPherson, who wrote/directed this flick, was going for a full out romance tale and tried to push some horror in the story simply because this one deals with horror novelists.  We really get no horror in regards to the novels, as they are rarely even mentioned in this flick, and all the horror comes in retrospect to Michael Farr’s psyche.  So how do you decide whether or not to give this one a watch(if you have yet to see it) or rate this as a horror film(if you have seen it)?  Read on.

Story-wise this flick is well written, although from what I have just mentioned it seems Mr. McPherson never truly found his audience.  Those looking for a romance film will be dismayed by the awesome yet short-lived horror involved, and those looking for a horror film will balk at how little horror there is in this piece.  Thankfully, this flick comes in at a slim 88 minutes, which means there really is not THAT much waiting between horror scenes, in comparison to such films that run nearly two hours but consist of relative material and suffer for the long runtime.  While the romance element is high, I loved that this flick focuses so much on guilt, and how a guilty past can turn your life upside down if you allow it to.  Michael Farr is far from over his wife’s death at the beginning of the film, and watching him try and replace her with Lena Morelle was interesting to watch, and that is really where most of the horror came from.  I will not go into spoilers, but it seems the horror erupted as a result of Michael trying to move on.  Is his wife to blame?  You be the judge of that.

As far as direction goes Conor McPherson did a fantastic job.  The visuals were excellent, the musical score is fantastic, and his execution during the horror scenes…WOW.  Yes, WOW.  I honestly cannot believe how great and highly effective this film’s scare scenes were, and at the film’s climax I thought to myself “Geeze, if he had aimed for a full-out horror film he would have one of the scariest of all time”, but that is of course sadly not the case.  Nonetheless, he has shown that he has what it takes to make a great genre film, and only time will tell if he ever chooses to do so.

Overall, this is a well-made horror/romance film that definitely focuses more on the romance element, but delivers excellent horror that despite its short doses is sure to leave you flabbergasted at how scary the horror is.  I recommend this to those who know what you are getting into, or those who do not mind sitting through 88 minutes for roughly four great scares.

Rating: 7/10

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