The majority of current horror movies centered on ghosts or the paranormal are cookie-cutter entries, but Down a Dark Hall is largely original. Horror movies that take place in a large, isolated mansion are nothing new, but Down a Dark Hall is certainly unique. The film is geared toward young adults, but longtime horror fans will likely appreciate the chiller as well. You can watch this ghost story on most popular VOD and On Demand platforms, including Xfinity, Vudu, and iTunes.
Directed by Rodrigo Cortes (Red Lights), this atmospheric haunt is based on the novel by Lois Duncan (I Know What You Did Last Summer). The horror film stars AnnaSophia Robb, Uma Thurman, Isabelle Fuhrman, Victoria Moroles, Noah Silver, Taylor Russell, Rebecca Front, and Pip Torrens.
Robb portrays Kit, a troubled 17-year-old who lost her father at a young age and is lashing out at school. Kit is sent to the mysterious and exclusive Blackwood Boarding School (the above-mentioned mansion). The school is overseen by headmistress Madame Duret (Thurman), a mysterious woman who should not be trusted. There are only four other young students joining Kit at the creepy establishment, and only a handful of employees. Duret informs the students that they all have special talents that they have yet to tap into, but Blackwood has a special talent of its own, a paranormal portal that is better left undisturbed.
Both audiences and critics alike seem split on this one, but whether or not you should take time to watch it depends on what kind of horror film you are in the mood for. Though there are certainly some effective jump-scare scenes, this is mostly a slow-burn story. It seems the majority of recent slow-burn horror movies drag with little payoff and are simply boring, but thanks to witty dialogue, stunning imagery, and a solid mystery, Down a Dark Hall is entertaining from beginning to end. If you enjoy slow-burn horror movies like The Invitation, The House of the Devil, and Let the Right One In, then you should enjoy this one.
Cortes does a fine job in creating an atmosphere that plays as a throwback to ghost stories from long ago, but the upbeat soundtrack makes sure that the story still feels modern. AnnaSophia Robb absolutely shines in this horror film, and while many viewers will probably tune in because of Uma Thurman, it is Robb who steals the show. The special talent that Kit discovers that she has is that of a piano prodigy. The breathtaking music is as important to the movie as the story itself.
AnnaSophia Robb hasn’t starred in a lot of horror movies, but after watching her performance in this one, genre fans will likely want more of her in future films. While it is Robb who shines, per her usual, Uma Thurman certainly delivers. In a recent interview with Rue Morgue, AnnaSophia Robb described what it was like to work with Thurman.
“She’s so commanding, and I remember the first time she came on set, I could feel her before I saw her. She showed up in costume, and everything clicked. She had that whole persona down, and the voice. She’s such a smart actress, and really collaborates with the director to find her character, and a sort of movement for her, orchestrating her body in such a way that sets the tone. There’s a way to choreograph yourself like that, and she did it so elegantly.”
Overall, this is a solid horror film that is a must-watch for fans of ghost stories, and the entire cast delivers. There are a few scenes that may be a bit too improbable for some viewers, though with horror movies centered on the supernatural, improbable situations should be expected. The reveal at the end is a solid one, and while the climax isn’t all that surprising, it is both equally eerie and touching. Down a Dark Hall is not only a solid chiller, the imaginative horror film also works as a moving coming-of-age story.