Review: Thornton’s fright night

Aaron Pedersen in The Darkside. Aaron gives the performance of his career so far.

Aaron Pedersen in Warwick Thornton’s The Darkside. Aaron gives the performance of his career so far.

With our cinemas littered with horror reboots full of fright-less protagonists getting horny over bare-boobed bimbos Warwick Thornton’s The Darkside is brimming with the key ingredient those Hollywood cookie cutter same olds are lacking; hair-raising scares.

This beautifully shot, hypnotic documentary is an eerie compendium of 13 unnerving stories told by either the original teller or an actor as a substitute for various reasons. 

It’s a pity Thornton couldn’t do enough to convince all of the original storytellers to share their spiritual encounters because when a familiar actor like Sacha Horler, Jack Charles or Bryan Brown appear on screen you feel removed from the stories intended effect.

That’s not taking anything away from the actors’ performances though. As you’d expect, they are convincing. Especially Aaron Pedersen who is almost unrecognisable as he tells Steven Tranter’s story about a haunted shed in Camooweal, Queensland. Tranter is Pedersen’s real life cousin.

“Don’t watch The Darkside alone as it’s a sometimes disturbing documentary.”

Naomi Hicks’ story is perhaps the most engrossing. Performed by Shari Sebbens it tells of a message Naomi received from her dead grandmother predicting the time Naomi’s new born niece will die.

With The Darkside Thornton’s duties go beyond director and cinematographer and include actor as he asks questions from behind the camera – some scripted, some genuine but either way you can tell he’s driving this vehicle with a tight grip on the wheel.

Don’t watch The Darkside alone as it’s a sometimes disturbing documentary about firsthand indigenous ghost stories that will have you looking over your shoulder from time to time, regardless of whether or not you fully believe what you’re being told.

The Darkside: 3.5/5
Directed by: Warwick Thornton
Starring: Deborah Mailman, Sacha Horler, Jack Charles, Bryan Brown
Review by: Matthew Eeles

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