The Ghost and the Darkness was a 1990 The Beast film

New Idris Elba Movie animal A lean, brooding creature feature, the kind of masterful man-versus-nature horror story that leans into fear, then wraps up before the conceit gets old or outgrown. In the film, Elba plays a widower and father of two who must protect his children from man-eating lions in South Africa. It’s a relatively small film, intimate in scope and character, much to like crawl or hunting Like the Jurassic Park films it is overtly referenced.

For those who prefer to see their lion-gown-evil stories (and their Steven Spielberg homages) played out on a grander, more ambitious scale, though, animal A great reminder to revisit the 1996 adventure thriller Ghosts and darkness, another story where the intellectual strength of human prey is hard to match with the physical strength of a large velt predator. As a horror story, Ghosts and darkness is surprisingly tense and bloody. But as a character study that actually invests in its characters as individuals, rather than leaving them as tick marks on a “death by numbers” checklist, it’s particularly well-made, familiar from an entirely different Spielberg blockbuster.

Ghosts and darkness The title is a historical epic based on true events in 1898 Kenya, where two lions terrorized a British railroad camp on the Tsavo River for nearly a year, killing dozens of workers. British Lieutenant Colonel John Henry Patterson – played in the film version by Val Kilmer – eventually wrote a book about the events, The Man-Eater of Tsavo, in which he claimed that the lions had killed more than 130 people, although that total was later greatly disputed. What is not disputed is that the lions were uncharacteristically brave, working together to hunt, and raiding camps during the day—all unusual behavior for male lions, who usually leave the hunt to the females of their pride.

Image: Paramount Pictures

Screenwriter William Goldman (The princess bride) takes a lot of dramatic advantage of the inconsistencies in Singh’s behavior, and plenty of historical license with the story, all in the interest of a larger and more colorful action. Patterson is sent to Kenya by Robert Beaumont, a ruthless oligarch and colonialist (played with mustache-twirling evil glee by Tom Wilkinson) determined to defeat other countries in order to build railway trade routes in East Africa. That means bridging the Tsavo, a job Patterson believes he can handle because of similar experience overseeing bridge construction in India. He confidently says goodbye to his pregnant wife, Helena (Emily Mortimer, giving the small role her full energy), certain that he will return home in time to see their baby born.

From the start, Patterson is a game and triumphant hero, willing to listen and learn from his Kenyan camp overseer Samuel (John Kani, who went on to play Black Panther’s father T’Chaka in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), and enthusiastic as Kenya. African wildlife. When he arrives at the camp, he is immediately beset by problems: tensions between Hindu and Muslim workers imported from India, between his bright young evangelical de camp aide Angus (Brian McCardy) and the cynical local doctor Hawthorne (Bernard Hill). And then the first lion attack happens, and the African and Indian workers all gloomily look to him, as the white man in charge, to sort it out.

Ghosts and darkness Not a movie about race, but it’s much clearer than most adventure movies about the costs of British colonialism and the perfectly reasonable class and cultural discontent underlying the railway project. And this isn’t a movie about masculinity and masculinity, but Goldman’s script finds familiar threads in these characters — the need to prove yourself and make a name for yourself, the jockeying for dominance that rests on implicit trust or mistrust, the way a shared threat becomes. A bonding experience. In that regard, V. Ghosts and darkness Spielberg’s later is one of the best character pieces of its kind Badgaro.

Goldman takes it openly Badgaro As a structural model, many of the story’s basic beats mimic Spielberg’s masterpiece: a series of escalating deaths by a single visible creature, the killing of an unrelated animal taken as a sign that the danger is over, nightly drinking. -and-bonding sessions marked by a terrifying monologue and undercut by equally serious humor. where Badgaro Quint (Robert Shaw) is introduced as a shark expert when things start to get serious, Ghosts and darkness In a similar role, and with an equally dramatic, memorable introduction, comes bogus hunter Charles Remington (Michael Douglas).

Michael Douglas at his best rolly-eye in The Ghost and the Darkness

Image: Paramount Pictures

Many movies have copied it Badgaro Over the years, usually copying animal attacks and dropping memorable character dynamics. Ghosts and darkness One of the very few movies that gets Alchemy right. Remington is a sadistic obsessive who doesn’t enjoy killing, but finds his services in demand because he’s so good at it. Patterson is an idealist who truly believes in his work – “What better job in the world than building bridges?” he said at one point, watching the labor take place. Samuel is a pragmatist caught between the ambitions of white outsiders and the camp he manages. Angus, Hawthorne and other minor characters, such as the proud Indian inspector Abdullah (Om Puri) and his African counterpart Mahina (Henry Sele), are given prominent roles.

But all this character work would feel dry and literary without the film’s pulp-thriller energy, which puts a sense of urgency on top of the scene. Bridge over the River Kwai– style literary ambitions. Director Stephen Hopkins uses real lions whenever possible, and apart from a few gimmicky shots using dummies, their physical interactions with frail human bodies look realistic and graphic. They’re truly terrifying, even if Hopkins and Goldman fall into the familiar man-versus-nature movie trap (also seen, apparently, Badgaro) by giving their animals human-level cunning and malice, the railroad workers’ belief that lions are actually monsters begins to make some sense.

John Kani sweats and stares out into the night as other cast members examine ghosts and lion-covered bodies in the dark.

Image: Paramount Pictures

For all the historical epic qualities in the Ghosts and Darknesss — Vilmos Zsigmond’s majestic shots of sky and fields, the focus on a packed camp filled with human endeavor, Jerry Goldsmith’s pounding score — the film also embraces purely horror horror movie tropes, from a ridiculously faked-out dream sequence to the first. First person POV shots of what it’s like to be killed by a lion.

And for the most part, they are efficient and effective filmmaking. A certain amount of buy-in for the film’s over-the-top aspects is required from the start: historians think Patterson was a bit of a fabulist who exaggerated the threat of lions to burnish his legacy, and so the film goes. Even in the realm of imagination to tell its story. It plays on native superstitions about the lion as an evil force, but as much as anything else, it’s a film about 19th-century white man’s superstitions about Africa and 20th-century audiences’ imaginations of what it would be like to fall prey to them. .

It’s also a sly and effective thriller, though, using a large cast, practical effects, and Val Kilmer’s ’90s Boy Scout charm to make a trashy movie when-being-attacked by animals can be another trashy movie. shark night or Lake Placid. Ghosts and darkness Overlooked and underrated over the years, but in an era that appreciates pulp cinema for its fun cheesy values, this movie represents a very unique marriage between lowbrow creature feature and highbrow historical epic. It has more texture than most modern beast-on-the-loose thrillers—and a lot more teeth, too.

Ghosts and darkness Available for digital rental Amazon, Vudu, and other digital services. It is available in some on-demand services.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.