There’s something about Ireland that lends itself to ghost stories, hauntings in particular. It’s a place legendary for being more than a place, where souls belong to the soil and the land calls blood back from across cold wide seas. A ghost story set in Ireland is almost redundant because in stories the land echoes with such spirits that it is already haunted before a proper ghost seeps into the tale.
The Eclipse is just such a ghost story set in Ireland and starring the inimitable Ciarán Hinds, good old Gaius Julius Caesar himself. The film hit the film festivals last year, winning “Grand Prize of European Fantasy Film in Silver” at Sitges and netting Hinds Best Actor at the Tribeca Film Festival.
The official summary is a bit on the long side: “Michael Farr (Ciarán Hinds) is a teacher raising his two kids alone since his wife died two years earlier. Lately he has been seeing and hearing strange things late at night in his house. He isn’t sure if he is simply having terrifying nightmares or if his house is haunted. Each year, the seaside town where Michael lives hosts an international literary festival, attracting writers from all over the world. Michael works as a volunteer for the festival and is assigned the attractive Lena Morelle (Iben Hjejle), an author of books about ghosts and the supernatural, to look after. They become friendly and he eagerly tells her of his experiences. For the first time he has met someone who can accept the reality of what has been happening to him. However, Lena’s attention is pulled elsewhere. She has come to the festival at the bidding of world-renowned novelist Nicholas Holden (Aidan Quinn), with whom she had a brief affair the previous year. He has fallen in love with Lena and is going through a turbulent time, eager to leave his wife to be with her. But all Lena is trying to do is extricate herself from this mess and just get through the next few days.”
Eh, that’s the sort of long winded and vaguely boring summary that sometimes gets attached to well done stories, the ones in which it’s not the broad strokes that matter so much as the details and interactions of characters. Try explaining what some stories are about and you keep wandering down blind alleys that amount to “you really just have to see it.”
Here’s the trailer:
It sets a good tone, lets you wonder along with Hines’ character if he is going insane or really experiencing these things. It also doesn’t seem to rely much on the reach out and grab you shocks, leaning more towards traditional psychological horror. Aidan Quinn’s novelist character comes across as too one-dimensionally jackassy in the trailer, and one leg of an unnecessary at face value love triangle, but not so much that it sinks the trailer overall.