It has to be difficult making new twists on genres. At least, that’s the only conclusion I can come up with for films that don’t manage to bring all of their disparate elements together successfully. Craig Rosenberg’s Half Light, from 2006, is another such film.
Demi Moore stars as an American writer living in England. When her son drowns, she leaves her husband/editor (Henry Ian Cusick) and rents a cottage in Scotland to come to terms with her grief and write her next novel. When there, she starts a romance with the local lighthouse keeper (Hans Matheson). There are only a few problems. She keeps having visions of her dead son. Visions which try to strangle her.
It’s a little bit paranormal, but is primarily a mystery… eventually. It’s more of a romance early on, and I have to say it drags a bit in the first half as it is not in any way an inspiring one. If you were to pick up a random Harlequin romance from a used book store, look at the cover, and make up a hackneyed story to go with the image, you could credibly come up with something like the first half of this movie. Minus, of course, the strangling-ghost-boy, who is used to add horror-esque jump scares in a part of the story that is otherwise not horror-esque in the slightest.
Once the mystery truly kicks in, it works a little bit better, with the ongoing question of whether Moore’s character is really seeing these things or if she is losing her mind. Unfortunately, it’s not much of a mystery, because the film’s approach to foreshadowing is to hold up a neon sign saying “HINT: We might have this happen, wink wink” (and not just with the mystery elements, but it hurts those the most). I knew the kid was going to die well before the danger was shown. I knew how his hints from beyond were going to be shown before they were. I knew what the lighthouse keeper’s first secret was going to be. And from that I knew what the whole underlying plot was. The only things I didn’t get in advance were things that still have a few holes in them after the film is over.
The film isn’t bad. The acting is solid, the directing is solid. The plot is even all right. It’s just too obvious. It tries too hard to be too many things, and it hampers itself with each of them. Ironically, Cusick’s character gives a near-perfect review of the film when discussing a rejection letter he received for his own book submission: “not sufficiently mysterious for a mystery, nor sufficiently thrilling for a thriller.” Exact words, no lie. It’s as if, for all that I was able to predict the plot, Rosenberg was able to predict my response.