Darkly Noon

A lesser known (and somewhat lesser) film from Philip Ridley, director of the superb The Reflecting Skin, abandoning childhood innocence-lost for the violent sexual awakening of one extremely repressed guy, the titular Darkly Noon (Brendan Fraser). Fleeing from his mysterious cult-like background, Darkly runs right into the arms (well, truck) of Callie, the beautiful lady of the backwoods (a very fine Ashley Judd). The shy, stuttering Darkly soon falls for Callie in the worst possible way, but her mute coffin-crafting boyfriend returns from parts unknown, the lines of a deadly triangle are pencilled in, and Darkly starts wrapping his torso with barbed wire, conversing with the bullet-riddled bodies of his dead parents, painting himself ritualistically (ala _White of The Eyes_) and paying heed to the popular rumors about Callie's seductive ways.

Astonishingly beautiful at times (the underground stream is a triumph of set design), Unfocused and undisciplined at others (what's with that giant shoe?!), the film present's Darkly's slow mental disintegration as a frightening spectacle with a truly horrifying climax. Fraser isn't quite up to the demands of his role, but he attacks the final reels with such gusto that comparisons with a religiously-driven Jack Torrance aren't be unwarranted. Still, _Darkly Noon_ is most captivating when Ridley allows events to unfold with the hypnotic rhythm of a folk tale. He's less successful when he crashes through this sensitive emotional minefield with cameras set on 'stun'.