Directed by George A. Romero [Other horror films: Night of the Living Dead (1968), Hungry Wives (1972), The Crazies (1973), The Amusement Park (1975), Martin (1976), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Creepshow (1982), Day of the Dead (1985), Monkey Shines (1988), Due occhi diabolici (1990, segment ‘The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar’), Bruiser (2000), Land of the Dead (2005), Diary of the Dead (2007), Survival of the Dead (2009)]
So, in full disclosure, I’ve not actually read the Stephen King book this film is based off of. I’ve read many of his books, but haven’t gotten around to that one yet, which may in part explain why I’ve never really thought that highly of this film.
I won’t say that the story’s bad, as it has many elements which I think have potential. But it didn’t blow me away, and while I was interested, it wasn’t any type of deep investment. Perhaps some of this is due to the movie being over two hours long, and without knowing much about the source material, that seems too lengthy.
Timothy Hutton does a decent job, but he’s occasionally prone to overacting. That said, I thought his performance here was mostly good. Something about Amy Madigan’s acting rubs me the wrong way, though, and while I love Michael Rooker, I really don’t think he was the right choice for Pangborn (while I’ve not read The Dark Half, I have read Needful Things many times, and Pangborn is a main character in that novel). Hutton pulls double duty and also plays George Stark, and he does a pretty good job portraying a character of a much different nature.
Truthfully, though, I can’t point to exactly what about this film I feel drags it down. I’m not a giant fan of the story, but even putting that aside, it just feels like it’s missing something. There is some solid brutality, and a little gore near the end, so it’s not completely void of enjoyment, and plus, the score is damn good, and the ending with the sparrows always struck me as pretty cool, but it still isn’t enough.
This is a film I’ve seen a handful of times before, and it never sat exactly right with me. It’s a technically fine film, directed by George A. Romero of all people, but still, it never blew me away. Maybe in the future, The Dark Half will do more for me. At the time, though, I find the movie a bit below average more than anything else.