The Eclipse (Conor McPherson, 2009)
After I hit paydirt with Outcast, the wonderful Scots urban fantasy picked up for US distribution by Bloody Disgusting not long ago, I figured I’d see what else the British Isles had in store for me. Ireland has been a solid, if not necessarily prolific, producer of good horror films over the past fifteen years (viz. Isolation or Dead Meat). The Eclipse, which boasts a cast headed up by Ciaran Hinds (There Will Be Blood), Aidan Quinn (Benny and Joon), and Iben Hjejle (Defiance) as the woman they’re both in love with, seemed like just the thing with which to pass a gloomy, snowy Friday night. Unfortunately, it fell quite flat.
Hinds plays Michael Farr, a volunteer at a literary festival who is still reeling from the recent death of his beloved wife (Hannah Lynch in her only screen appearance to date). He is assigned as a driver for two visiting notables, paranormal researcher Lena Morrell (Hjelje) and horror novelist Nicholas Holden (Quinn). Holden, an American, is married, but the cat is away, and he’s got his sights set on bedding Morrell. Michael, on the other hand, initially sees Morrell as a possible gateway to understanding why he sees—or believes he sees—the ghost of his wife, but he, too, begins to fall for her.
Ultimately, I believe The Eclipse is an attempt at the supernatural-drama subgenre that the Southeast Asian film market has honed to a fine edge, and that most of the rest of the world doesn’t really know exists. It is unsuccessful, though I have no way of knowing whether to blame the original story (by Billy Roche) or its adaptation (by McPherson); either is possible. Another rewrite might have made it a bit more coherent and turned a collection of interesting scenes into a full story, but that rewrite never happened, and we got what we got. You can feel free to give this one a miss. **