If you’ve ever rolled your eyes when someone raises why an actor with a disability isn’t playing that disability part in a film, or why that person from Armenia isn’t playing the Armenian or why that French person isn’t playing the person with the French accent, then Down A Dark Hall will convince you of why it’s always a good idea.
Based on a book of the same name from Lois Duncan, wrote in 1974 – Duncan also wrote I Know What You Did Last Summer in 1973 – Down A Dark Hall has a strong premise and a good start, but is handicapped by terrible accents a rushed plot and a slow burn, until things actually burn.
Down A Dark Hall has echoes of Harry Potter; big old creepy school, gifted children not knowing why they are there, strange goings on but here the similarities endeth.
For, unlike Harry Potter, Down A Dark Hall has a real problem with light, and the use thereof, in so much as it doesn’t use much of it. Scenes are so dark they are unwatchable in a lot of cases, you perhaps wouldn’t mind so much if the sets were rubbish, or it was used for effect, but the sets look good, what you can see of them, and it’s not used for any kind of effect, that you can see at least.
Then we get to Uma Thurman (“Pulp Fiction”, “Kill Bill”) and Noah Silver (“Last Knights”, “Tyrant (TV)”) who where both born in the USA, so what possessed them to decide to take a on a role that involved speaking in a French accent, not French, just the accent, is beyond me.
Thurman sounds British half the time whilst Silver sounds like he’s just stepped out of ‘Allo ‘Allo. If he’d muttered “Good Moaning” it wouldn’t have felt so out of place.