The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising (2007) (part 9 of 14)
Miss Greythorne warns Will that since the rider was there when they time-jumped, he’ll be hunting them “through time” already. Will whines that he doesn’t know where the Sign is, and half a second later a window shatters to let in a horrible, ravening mons… wait, it’s a crow. Miss Greythorne is ready for it, and whips out a gleaming magical sw… er, a walking stick. She does the “speed-up-slow-down” thing, whirls around and whacks the crow a good one, whereupon it explodes into a cloud of feathers.
You know, it was worth recapping everything that came before this, just so I could get to do the bit where a seventy-year-old lady in tinted spectacles and a natty little hat lays the smackdown on a CGI crow.
But wait, it gets better!
We hear roaring from outside, and the Old Ones prepare to fight. The Perv Patrol finally get a little bit of character development where one thinks it’s a dragon outside, and the other one thinks it’s a “shapeless beast, oi suppose.” They bet a “flagon of ale” (look! Genuine Brit-speak!) on its being a dragon/not a dragon.
Don’t get too excited. What actually comes in is the riderdoctor’s mother. Wow, what a letdown. She shuffles in, looking vague, while one of the Pervs keenly notes that she “ain’t no dragon.” The old lady just stares at them, and then suddenly produces a big snake (it just climbs over her shoulder). Will and Merriman back off, and Merriman tells him to get the hell on with finding the Sign. But too late—the old lady hisses, and then… explodes. Into a cloud of snakes. Oh gods, this is so awesome. I am in recapping heaven.
The Old Ones are overwhelmed by this slithery onslaught, and Will gets flung backward and down a hole. Meanwhile, the entire altar gets covered in a carpet of snakes, which make stupid “slimy” noises as they land. Movie, I don’t care what the other movies told you, snakes are not slimy. Starfleet officers, yes. Snakes, no. One snake (the first one the old lady unleashed) follows Will, who’s ended up in a crypt.
Above him, the Old Ones have become buried in completely harmless, non-venemous pythons and boa constrictors. Er, I mean, entrapped by deadly monsters. Honest. Well, okay, the pythons do wrap themselves around their arms and legs and pretty much disable them. But I don’t know why the Dark didn’t just send in, say, something a bit more deadly like a few nice Taipans or maybe a King Brown or Death Adder. Or a Black Mamba. Or anything that causes a fast, agonising, foaming death, really.
Disabled by this cunning plan, Merriman yells at Will (again) to hurry the hell up and find the Sign. Because, I guess, finding it will make the snakes go away. Or something. He tells Will to use his powers. Oh great. Here comes the first moment that made me laugh out loud in the cinema.
“Light!” Will yells. Camera! Inaction! And ta-daa, flames spring up all around him. Boy, that was easy. The fire creates a border around a stone hexagon or something on the floor around him, just like in a hundred other fantasy movies (or, hell, even Indiana Jones), and Will stares at it and says “awesome!”
Wait, I forgot. Actually I just groaned loudly.
The fire also illuminates another, smaller raised stone thing in the middle of the larger one, and Will steps off it while the snake continues to come after him. Hey, cool! It’s an albino python! Those are really rare! Er, I mean, deadly! Really! One bite and the kid is toast! Pythons don’t kill by constriction, honest! They’re loaded with venom! (Man, knowing basic herpetology really spoils movies like this, doesn’t it?) Anyway, with this lame time-restriction element in place, Will examines the stone slab he just got off and finds “this movie’s chances of turning a profit” engraved on it. Wait, actually it says “Thomas Stanton” (I liked my version better).
Above, the Old Ones are still entangled in snakes. Miss Greythorne, for her part, is actually hanging from the ceiling. “This is highly unpleasant,” she notes. Oh, those dry Brits!
Will, meanwhile, manages to heave the slab aside, and finds the expected heap of bones covered in phony cobwebs underneath. Oh, and needless to say the bones haven’t fallen apart, and the ribs are still stuck together. Because ribcages don’t collapse after the flesh has rotted away. They really don’t! I’ve seen it in hundreds of movies, so it’s gotta be true! He peers inside, and spots a cloth with the Wheel of Taranis on it. Er, wouldn’t that have disintegrated by now? Apparently not, because he pulls it away in one piece and finds a rather unpleasant-looking semi-mummified head underneath. He stares queasily at it, and spots the next Sign inside its mouth. Eww! Mom, someone’s eating all the Signs! Meanwhile, overhead, the albino python finally gets to him, and suddenly turns into a CG cobra. It’s amazing how they do that.
The cobra strikes at him, but—I can’t believe I’m typing this—at the very last second, a skeletal hand shoots out and catches it an inch away from his face. Will finally realises the snake is there, just in time to see the hand hurl it away. Oh man. I think that was one of the most idiotic things I’ve ever seen in my life, and I’ve studied communications theory. Will looks away from the Deus ex Machina and grabs the Sign, which he then holds up in order to shout “guys, I found the Sign!!!11.” You know, it’s not just Ludwig’s accent that bothers me, it’s his voice. He has this hoarse kind of voice that almost sounds squeaky sometimes, and somehow the more I hear it the more it gets on my tits (and yes, that is a Britishism. A real one).
The instant the words are out of his mouth, we get the quick-spin-transition thing, and he’s suddenly back in church in the present day with everyone still singing. Nobody seems to have noticed that he’s been gone, but he’s still holding the Sign in his hand. Meanwhile we get some quick shots of the Old Ones, just so we know they’re okay (yay).
Anyway, the service ends (without the word “God” having been mentioned at any point—we wouldn’t want to offend any non-Christians in the audience, now would we?). As they’re leaving, Miss Greythorne catches up with Dad and asks him if he knew there was a Stanton buried in the church. Since she didn’t see the tomb, I’m not sure how she knows, but let it pass. Anyway, she goes on to chat with him and Mom about how old the building is (showoff), obviously keeping them busy.
Inside, Will is still sitting on his pew. The riderdoctor is leaving with his mother, and one of the Pervs cheekily asks him if he “enjoyed the service.” Unfortunately I can’t tell you how the riderdoctor answers this witty riposte, because we abruptly cut to Mom examining the engraving on Thomas Stanton’s tomb and getting slightly freaked out because it’s the same name as—*sob*—her missing son! Miss Greythorne says that maybe he’s an ancestor of theirs.
Inside the church, Will is examining the Sign he’s just found and asks Merriman if Thomas Stanton, his ancestor, was also an Old One. Merriman says he wasn’t just that, but he was also “a craftsman.” I mean, like, wow! But, I guess, he means a sort of magical craftsman, because we get a flashback in which Merriman explains that Thomas Stanton actually made the Signs—apparently in secret even from the other Old Ones. What an odd thing to do. And, of course, it goes without saying that none of this was in the book.
Supposedly, five of the Signs are physical ones. Will asks about the last one, and Merriman says that it can’t be found “because it was never hidden.” Uh, yeah. Not unnaturally, Will asks how he’s meant to find it. “Well, you’re the Seeker,” Merriman tells him. I told you he said that a lot. He adds that the last Sign is “a soul freely given to unleash the power of the Light,” which means that, yes, for the billionth time we’ve stepped into the realm of using blatant Messianic symbolism (actually, the director is a Fundamentalist Christian). Can’t get enough of that religious allegory stuff in our fantasy potboilers, can we? And no, this was not in the book. And also, this hardly counts as not knowing anything about where it is, or about its being “not hidden.” Gods, how many drinks did the screenwriter put back before he wrote this scene?
Will asks if maybe the soul in question belonged to Thomas Stanton, and instead of answering him, Merriman explains how Thomas made “a choice” and his family fled from the Dark, over the water (i.e., they’ve all gone/to look for America), only for the Stanton family to return here and now. Which really has nothing to do with what Will just asked, so thanks for the help, Merriman.
Outside Mom and Dad have noticed that there’s no date on the tomb, and Dad says it probably has nothing to do with them. Um, why is he so worked up about it? It’s a bloody inscription on a piece of stone. Something tells me Dad did too much pot as a student. And also, hahah, let’s all enjoy the humour inherent in knowing stuff the characters don’t. Or maybe we’ll just enjoy a nice big glass of cheap whiskey. Yes, that sounds like a better plan.
Anyways, so Dad says it’s like just a coincidence, and Miss Greythorne gives him this prim look and says of course and then walks off and now the screen is kinda going fuzz…
*runs to the bathroom*
Man, I’m going to have to mop the floor later.
Back inside the church, Merriman conspiratorially reveals that, in fact, the Old Ones had a hand in the Stantons coming back to Britain—apparently Miss Greythorne used her influence to get Dad a new job there.
Merriman: [smarmily] Destiny brought you here. We just took care of the details.
Cut to that night, and Dad is in his office doing something rather strange. He’s got the photo of Will and his twin on his desk, and he’s busy tearing up his papers. Finally, he picks up his incomplete thesis and throws it in the bin. Now, I sincerely doubt the academic world just lost anything vital (they’ve already got books and books full of meaningless twaddle on nonsensical subjects, after all), but I’m really confused over why he just did that. Because he blames the thesis for the loss of his son? If so, why didn’t he throw it away back then? What triggered him to do it now? Finding some old tomb? Also, does it really take fourteen years to write a thesis? I thought there was a time limit. I’m really starting to wonder about that pot-smoking theory I came up with just now.
We leave this puzzling scene to see the rider, back in his full regalia of Evil and riding in slo-mo down a street. Isn’t someone going to see him? Someone else comes to meet him—someone clad in a floor-lenth, hooded black cloak. No, that’s not going to look suspicious at all, Mysterious Stranger. Nobody’s going to notice that you’re dressed up like the Grim Reaper. No, they honestly won’t—it’s the middle of the night. So why bother with the disguise at all? Oh, right—so we won’t recognise them.
Some pointless slo-mo brings both Mysterious Stranger and the rider onto the bridge together (like I said, the bridge becomes important). The rider’s evil horse prances while he proclaims that his power “increases by the day,” but the Seeker has found two Signs, and his power is also growing (not that we’ll ever see any evidence of this). He tells Mysterious Stranger that “my offer is true” and that if he/she brings him what he wants, he/she will “reap [your] reward.” Mysterious Stranger, of course, says nothing, because if she speaks we’ll realise she’s really Cute Chick.
Oh, come on. Don’t tell me you didn’t figure that out already. I mean, number one, she has no reason to be in the movie other than to look cute and have a shocking secret, and number two, since she’s an attractive woman, and a tease, she obviously represents the usual womanly wiles of deception and seduction and is clearly the snake in Will’s garden (oh gods that sounded so wrong. I think I have to puke again). I am generally hopeless at figuring out plot surprises ahead of time, mostly because I just don’t think about it, but in this case I figured this one out right there in the cinema, while I was just sitting there enjoying some goofy entertainment. Now that’s some good scriptwriting right there.