Say what you will about Mischa Barton, she sure is prolific.

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Somehow, this is the third Barton flick we’ve ended up reviewing at Movie Ramblings towers in a little over a month, which must be some sort of record.

And a quick scan across the net reveals the actress has ten films either awaiting release, currently filming or in pre-production – ludicrous.

Now a lot of those film are sure to be tosh (heck, we reviewed one of them recently – Apartment 1303), but occasionally one appears from the depths, blinking into the sunlight and revealing itself to be far more worthy.

That would be Into The Dark, a haunting, moving, superior sort-of ghost story that delves into the mysteries of life and death.

Barton plays Sophia, whose world is rocked on both the death of her mother and father within six months of each other.

Sophia’s father was a priest, but a deathbed revelation that he no longer believes in the afterlife sends the daughter on a voyage of discovery and into pretty murky territory.

Emerging as a light from the darkness is the handsome Adam (Ryan Eggold), who, after literally bumping into Sophia, sparks up a real slow-burner of a romance.

Eventually they decide to take their relationship up a notch, only for things to go horribly wrong when Adam vanishes in the middle of the night from his apartment, leaving only some bloodstained sheets behind.

Naturally the police don’t seem interested, leaving Sophia and Adam’s flatmate Astrid (Leah Pipes) to poke around his high-rise apartment block, desperately trying to locate him.

All this is made more complicated (and menacing) by the fact that the block used to be a hospital of sorts for the very sick, and is still haunted by many of those poor souls.

Soon, Sophia realises that she may have to cross the threshold of death itself in order to achieve her goal….

This is a film that lives or dies by the relationship between the two central characters, as we have to buy into the fact that Sophia would go to such extreme lengths to try and reach Adam.

Now, I may be one of the biggest cynics out there, but I found the duo of Barton and Eggold a perfect match, with genuine chemistry.

This is put across through a series of touching flashback sequences, expertly handled by director Mark Edwin Robinson.

Everything is played out on a believable level, with no performer doing something suddenly out of character, which often stymies films of this ilk.

Robinson’s direction throughout is a joy, with a real debt to cinematographer Eduardo Enrique Mayen, who layers the screen with enough shades of darkness and light to keep you guessing – peering to see if you really have seen what you thought you might have.

Also worthy of mention is a memorable score from Jesse Voccia, which avoids the pitfalls of the usual percussion-heavy horror soundtrack, in favour of a more restrained and emotive vibe.

Anybody expecting an effects-heavy scarefest should steer well clear, as there is little in the way of on-screen effects and, while tense, the film is not particularly scary.

What it is though, is a well-told, well-acted tale of life, love and what lies beyond that proves a real surprise.

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[blockquote3]a haunting, moving, superior sort-of ghost story that delves into the mysteries of life and death.[/blockquote3]

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EXTRAS: None

VERDICT: [rating=4]

 

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.