Written by John Edward Betancourt
Whether or not we want to acknowledge it, within all of us is a constant battle and struggle between good and evil. We wish to be great people, to do things for others that leave us satisfied and whole, but at the same time we battle hard that darker side that lurks deep within.
There is a temper hidden in each of us, a fury that we rarely let loose, but at times we want to. We feel wronged or betrayed and our first thoughts often turn to revenge before our better half prevails. But what if that darker side to us was unleashed upon the world? What if it was given a chance to thrive and grow? It's a possibility that George A. Romero explores in his adaptation of Stephen King's The Dark Half.
Thad Beaumont has had an interesting career as a writer. He is published, having written some critical darlings, but those books were never a financial success. Yet Thad lives a pretty good life in a pretty good house because he has a secret. Thad is really bestselling author George Stark, and his secret has been discovered by a man on a mission to get a piece of Thad's payday. But rather than pay off the creep, Thad goes public and puts George Stark to rest, or so he thinks. Because shortly after bidding farewell to George, strange murders of those closest to Thad are beginning to happen, and the man claiming to be responsible...is none other than George Stark himself.
Of all of George Romero's films, this is my non-zombie favorite. This is a wonderful and fascinating character study about one thing, the battle between light and dark within our very souls. Obviously, the film takes this to incredible extremes, seeing as to how George Stark actually comes to life and that's where we need to take a moment and talk about the amazing performance from Timothy Hutton, since he plays both Thad Beaumont and George Stark and he does it all in impressive fashion.
There are two truly indistinguishable halves when it comes to Hutton's work in this film. His portrayal of Beaumont is reserved, humble and he’s always caught up in an internal battle where he struggles with making the right decisions on a regular basis. But Stark, he is the stuff of nightmares. There is no filter, no hesitation from George. He is ready to murder because in his mind the world only plays by his rules and watching Hutton take on both roles is simply fascinating to watch.
This is at its core an extremely cerebral film, one that is filled with a subtlety that demonstrates Romero's mastery of filmmaking. A fine example of this is the fact that before George Stark is ‘killed off’, there is a dark side evident in Thad, one that only pokes its head out in quick fashion, but once Stark is out of the picture, we never see it again within Thad. This is one of the few films that faithfully adapts King's intricate work and in the end, you are treated to a film that manages to scare you in all the right ways. See this one if you missed it and get ready to enjoy one hell of a ride.