The Dark

The Dark is a 2005 film, based on my 1994 novel, Sheep. The film stars Sean Bean and Maria Bello, and features Abigail Stone as Ebril. The script is by Stephen Massicotte, with direction by John Fawcett (Ginger Snaps).

The film is a radical reworking of the novel. The original storyline is abandoned, and a completely new one put in its place. Some of the visual elements from the novel survive, but the film is perhaps best regarded as a ‘response’ to the novel rather than an adaptation of it in any traditional sense.

The new story is not a simple one to summarise, but involves a deadly bargain struck with the Welsh folkloric land of Annwynn, and the terrible consequences of that bargain. Many viewers have been puzzled by the ending, and there are discussions of this here and here. (NB: spoilers!)

The film was not warmly received on release (Rotten Tomatoes rates it at 33%: rotten), had only a restricted theatrical release in the UK and Europe, and went straight to DVD in the USA. Much of the criticism was directed at confusing storytelling, particularly the rather impenetrable ending, and concerns about lack of originality.

It’s handsomely made, with some wonderful aerial landscape shots, and there is a real sense of visual bravura throughout. The two leads are reliably good, the sheep are admirably deadpan, and Abigail Stone, an amateur who was discovered at an open casting session of local children, is mesmerising as the eerie Welsh girl, Ebril. Well worth a watch, I’d say.

The source novel, Sheep, is available as an ebook, here.

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4 thoughts on “The Dark

  1. Musa Kheswa says:

    I seem to have a problem, I can’t find this novel ‘Sheep’ in South Africa’s popular bookshops.

    • Hi Musa.

      No, it’s out of print, I’m afraid, which means there are no new copies in shops. There are many used copies on Amazon.com, though, who will ship to South Africa, or you could buy the Kindle edition if you’re a Kindle-y person. But it isn’t in the shops anymore I’m afraid.

      Hope you manage to track one down!

      Thanks for your message.

      Simon.

    • Hi Jordan.

      I have absolutely no idea why I haven’t seen this until today. Huge apologies for not replying in a timely fashion. I’d be happy to discuss your goals with you of course, just as a long as it doesn’t involve a lot of reading. Apologies again for the absurdly long delay in replying to you. All best wishes, Simon.

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