Ghost and the Darkness, The

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3 1/2

Content: -2

This mesmerizing African tale of death and mystery, based on a true story, takes place in 1896. A young Irish engineer, Col. John Patterson (Val Kilmer), is hired by the English to build a bridge in the remote African village of Tsavo, meaning "Place of Slaughter." Although Patterson has an outstanding reputation of completing difficult projects all over the world, this bridge will be his greatest challenge. Patterson must supervise hundreds of Hindu and Muslim natives who hate each other and resent any White Man. However, within 24 hours Patterson earns their respect and admiration when he successfully kills a stalking lion with one shot. But the workers are also terrorized by two fierce lions that attack night and day. These beasts, referred to as "The Ghost" and "The Darkness," eventually kill 130 people. Nothing Patterson does stops the attacks, and the Africans believe these lions are "devils of the night" sent by evil witch doctors. As a mass mutiny looms, Remington (Michael Douglas), a world-renowned hunter, comes to Patterson's aid. Breathtaking scenery, electrifying suspense and solid performances make THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS a truly entertaining thriller.

The lion attacks account for the film's intense violence. Some gruesome shots of bloody victims are sure to upset sensitive souls. The two animals sneak up on sleeping victims and drag them off to devour them. They crash through the primitive hospital tent as helpless victims are mauled and destroyed. When Remington and Patterson come across a lion's lair in a cave and find hundreds of human skeletons, the hunter knows these animals kill for pure enjoyment and not for hunger. This gives credence to the natives' belief that the lions are demons. Patterson risks his life many times, shows compassion for his men, and feels genuine remorse and guilt for those who die. There are two other white men at the camp, Angus, an evangelical Christian, and the other, a cynical non-believing doctor. Refreshingly, the Christian is portrayed as good-natured, intelligent and brave although he has little luck converting the others. Patterson claims he has no religion because his mother was Catholic and his father Protestant, but nevertheless he quotes scripture when Angus is killed. Perhaps because of the times, there is only one obscenity, plus four regular profanities and a few crudities. The intense violence is excessive and could have been less gory without sacrificing the authenticity of the real events.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Paramount Pictures, 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023-7780

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Few (3) times - Mild 2, Moderate 2

Obscene Language: Once - s-word

Profanity: Several (5) times - Regular 4 (for God's sake 1, C 1, J 2), Exclamatory 1

Violence: Many times - Severe (animal attacks on humans, bloody and gory)

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Some whiskey and champagne drinking


Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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