The Ghost and the Darkness

10/19/2016 20:19

Film: The Ghost and the Darkness

Year: 1996

Director: Stephen Hopkins

Writer: Williams Goldman

Starring: Michael Douglas, Val Kilmer and Tom Wilkinson



This film begins in London in 1898. We see a man played by Val Kilmer walking down a hallway and he meets with a Tom Wilkinson. It turns out that Kilmer works for Wilkinson who is a wealthy businessman. We learn that Wilkinson wants to bridge a river in Africa to help colonize it. We also learn that Wilkinson is in a race with the Germans, French as well as others to do this. Kilmer is supposed to be the best at what he does and that’s why he is going. We learn thought that Kilmer’s wife is pregnant and will be having their child soon. He promised her that he would be there for the birth, but Wilkinson is not hearing any of it.

Kilmer’s wife is played by Emily Mortimer. She encourages him to go as he has always wanted to go to Africa. She would not want him to resent her by not allowing him to go. She does hint that after this they should travel as a family.

Kilmer arrives and meets with Brian McCardie, who will be his helper in Africa. McCardie was hired by Wilkinson. They ride together to the place where the building of the railroad is. We see during this drive that Kilmer knows a lot about Africa, much more than McCardie who has been there much longer.

They arrive at the worksite and we meet the others at the camp. There is John Kani, who is a native and very friendly. He soon becomes friends with Kilmer. There is a doctor, who runs a shanty hospital played by Bernard Hill. There is also an Indian man that is the foreman, played by Om Puri.

The work begins and goes on without an issue. They are head of schedule and making good time. There is however an attack on a worker by a lion. Kilmer decides that he will hunt the lion and McCardie joins him. There is nothing for most of the night, but then a lion attacks. Kilmer shoots it and McCardie falls out of his tree, right next to a dead lion. The workers are then in high praise of Kilmer for what he has done and they make him a necklace from the claws of it.

There are no more issues for some time and then they learn that the lion Kilmer killed is not one to worry about. There are two man-eaters in the area known as The Ghost and The Darkness. They attack and kill many workers. Kilmer goes about trying to kill these ones as well.

Wilkinson arrives right after Kilmer talked Puri and the other workers from leaving. Wilkinson doesn’t understand why the production has slowed way down and starts to believe that Kilmer wasn’t the right man for the job. Kilmer tries to explain to him what has been happening, but he doesn’t want to hear it. He also thinks that Kilmer is losing his mind due to a contraption he has made. It is a large box car that will allow a lion to enter, lock it in and then allow him free reign to shoot it. It does work, but the men inside fail to even wound the animal. Wilkinson decides to seek out the help of a famous hunter. Kilmer doesn’t believe he will find him in time.

The lions kill even more men, well over 40 workers. There is another mutiny with Puri at the head of it. Michael Douglas shows up and puts an end to it. He is the famous hunter. He comes with African warriors and vows they will kill the lions. He enlists the aid of Kani, who is an old friend, as well as Kilmer. Will they succeed in killing these lions? Or will they fall victim to them as well?

I want to lead off stating that I enjoyed this film. It really will be hard for me to pick this apart, due to the fact that this is based on a true story. I thought the acting was good across the board. I felt it was very well cast and the roles that everyone had fit them. I thought the lions looked great, especially because for the most part they used real ones and only sprung for an animatronics’ at one point. I felt the film did well at building tension after the man-eaters showed up as well.

Now I did have issues with a couple of things in this film. The first being that since this is based on a true story, I have issue that Douglas’ character is not real. He was created for this film. Kilmer’s real life character actually killed both man-eaters by himself. I also felt that this film does not build tension as well as it should. The film drags on a bit early on. It also gets a tad boring due to some of it is them hunting the lions by waiting for them to attack. None of these issues are too bad to ruin the film though.

I am also adding this to the horror film research due to animals attacking is a scary concept. Now in the United States, we do not have many animals that if they decided to attack us, would be something that we would fear too much. The fact that there are two lions that have a taste for human flesh and are killing a lot of workers is a scary thing, especially for the natives that do not have the capabilities to kill them for the most part.

Now with that said, I would recommend seeing this film. I felt that the acting was good, the story is based on a true story, which makes it even better and a scary idea. Now there are aspects of this film that are not based in truth, like Douglas’ character, but that does not hurt the film for me. They do play well off each other. If you like animals and want to see when nature turns dark, then give this a viewing. It is a good film to view in my opinion.


My Rating: 7 out of 10