Dark August (1976)

Article 2522 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-29-2008
Posting Date: 7-8-2008
Directed by Martin Goldman
Featuring J.J. Barry, Carole Shelyne, Kim Hunter
Country: USA

An artist accidentally kills a young girl while driving in his jeep. The girl’s grandfather places a curse on the artist, who is then haunted by a shadowy figure. The artist seeks a way out of the curse.

I think I can see what this movie was trying to do. It attempted to flesh out a fairly standard occult story by involving us in the lives and the personalities of our characters. This can be effective if the characters and their lives are strong enough to hold our interest, but, though this movie does make a valiant effort, it doesn’t happen here. After a while, the character scenes (the artist has a jokey western showdown with a friend, the artist gets an unpleasant call from his separated wife, to name just a couple) start to come across as filler, mere roadblocks in the way of getting on with the story. The movie also tries for subtlety and a certain visual poetry, but once again, it just falls a little short in accomplishing these tasks. The end result is a movie that just takes too long to get about its business. The last twenty minutes of the movie are the best, with the scene in which a local witch tries to lift the curse a highlight, but even this scene lacks the necessary energy to really make it gripping. As it is, it’s more of a nice try than a success.


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