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Film review: 'The Eclipse' is too cloudy

Published: Friday, April 16 2010 12:00 a.m. MDT

Aidan Quinn and Iben Hjelje star in Irish drama/psychological thriller/romance/horror film "The Eclipse."

Magnolia Pictures

THE ECLIPSE — ★★1/2 — Ciaran Hinds, Iben Hjelje, Aidan Quinn; rated R (profanity, violence, slurs, brief gore, brief sex, brief drugs, vulgarity); Broadway Centre

Like that other movie that featured the word "Eclipse" in its title — you know, the one that also touts itself as part of the "Twilight Saga" — "The Eclipse" has some horror elements in it.

And like that other story, this at-times bizarre, Irish drama/psychological thriller/romance/horror hybrid doesn't work completely.

For one thing, it's unclear why the filmmakers decided to mix up so many genres. In particular, the juxtaposition of mournful drama and "Sixth Sense"-like frights is too jarring and actually renders it less effective than it would be with just one.

They probably should have just stuck with the character drama parts instead, because they're the better, more engrossing parts.

The glue that holds this messy feature together is Irish character actor Ciaran Hinds (HBO's "Rome").

He stars as Michael Farr, a widower who has his hands full with two young daughters. Unfortunately, since the death of his wife, he's been having terrible visions of ghostly apparitions that seem very real.

Given that, Michael should know better than to commit to something else. But he's volunteered with a local literary festival, which is how he meets a visiting horror novelist, Lena Morelle (Iben Hjelje, from "Defiance").

The two hit it off, and she believes his claims about seeing specters.

Screenwriter/director Conor McPherson keeps switching directions. And eventually, this zigging and zagging becomes tiresome.

It almost feels like reels from completely different movies were spliced together, and for no good reason.

There are some good points, though. A subplot about another writer (an amusingly brusque Aidan Quinn) keeps things lively.

Also, we do come to care about devoted dad Michael, thanks to Hinds' sensitive performance.

"The Eclipse" is rated R and features strong sexual language (mostly profanity), strong, occasionally disturbing content and imagery (fisticuffs, an auto mishap and some scary nightmares and visions), derogatory language and slurs, brief gory imagery, a brief sex scene (mostly implied), brief drug references (mostly pharmaceuticals), and other suggestive references. Running time: 87 minutes.

e-mail: jeff@desnews.com

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