Dark Vale

Dir: Jason MJ Brown, 2015

6/10

Director Jason Brown’s new feature, following A Date With Ghosts, is an ambitious affair that should be celebrated for its old-fashioned style of storytelling.

Hailing from Mansfield in Nottinghamshire, the director utilises local towns and districts to good effect.

A mining town, Mansfield is infamous for its (once great) market and vibrant town centre.

Sadly, the decades and technology have not been kind to the little city and, now, Mansfield features an abundance of closed shops and boarded up windows.

Thankfully, Jason MJ Brown ignores this depressing side of the town and opts instead for its beautiful scenery and ancient architectural magnificence.

Filmed in and around Newstead Abbey, Brown has a good eye for detail and an impressive talent for cinematography.

The plot is a traditional ghost story, akin to The Woman In Black.

100 hundred years ago, a girl called Lucy (Chloe Clarke) committed suicide and now haunts a place called The Vale.

Young couple, Tom (Darren Randall) and Leah (Cara Middleton), spend a romantic weekend together in the haunted location, unaware of its history and ghostly presence.

Brown goes for chills over today’s current trend of gore and the movie works better for it.

For the budget, the director has created an interesting piece of cinema showing exactly where having a piece of imagination and the determination will get you.

A little bit more work towards the editing wouldn’t go amiss as, at times, the plot can be a tad convoluted causing discombobulation.

The leads do very well, with a special mention to Chloe Clarke as Lucy. A beautiful girl, she ably allows her beauty and good looks to shine through while emitting an aura of creepiness with eerie characterisation.

A little under an hour and a half, it’s an ambitious project that could do with some restructuring and scenes added.

There are several plot points that are important to the story but are only briefly mentioned and not resolved. These loose ends would elaborate on the depth of the characters, their backstory and magnify the strained relationship between the couple.

Aside from the odd “piss” uttered, the writer and director has restrained from littering the script with a constant barrage of obscenities which is a trap that many people fall into.

Overall, an impressive second feature from someone who, clearly, has a passion for filmmaking and the medium itself.

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