Dark Forces (1980)

aka Harlequin
Article 2771 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-8-2008
Posting Date: 3-15-2009
Directed by Simon Wincer
Featuring Robert Powell, David Hemmings, Carmen Duncan
Country: Australia

When a mysterious faith healer cures a senator’s son of leukemia, the family ends up taking him in. However, the political forces conspiring to move the senator into a key position find themselves at odds with the mysterious man.

The tagline in the ads for this movie in the US was “Can anyone survive?”, which seems to indicate that it was marketed as a horror movie. I would imagine anyone going into this rather bizarre fantasy/parable expecting a horror movie would emerge frustrated and disappointed; in fact, I could describe it as an inverted horror movie, one in which the usual roles of good and evil have been reversed. Oh, it’s a fascinating movie in its way; the movie gets a lot of mileage over the mysteries surrounding the faith healer’s powers and intentions. Stylistically, it’s a bit uneven; the opening scenes are done extremely well, but some of the scenes in the middle of the movie have the feel of a made-for-TV soap opera, and the faith healer’s mystic comments get rather tiresome. However, there’s nothing else out there quite like it, and despite the fact it’s basically about the struggle between good and evil, it never comes across as simplistic. On a side note, the movie was based on two historical events; one is about the mysterious disappearance of an Australian Prime Minister while swimming, and the other (much more familiar to horror fans) is the story of Rasputin.

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