Magnus Wake’s “Dark Sense” Delivers on Supernatural Suspense

Screen Capture: Corin Edgar Robert and Ian Hanmore as Young Simon and Father Kavanagh, respectively, in the Magnus Wake-directed Dark Sense
Screen Capture: Corin Edgar Robert and Ian Hanmore as Young Simon and Father Kavanagh, respectively, in the Magnus Wake-directed Dark Sense

Does the 2019 Magnus Wake-directed Dark Sense honour the source material? With a screenplay written by Alistair Rutherford and Geoff Dupuy-Holder, the Scotland set thriller Dark Sense accurately brings to life Peter Flannery’s characters.

What is the Film About?

Maggie Bain as Sonia Chatham in the Magnus Wake-directed Dark Sense
Maggie Bain as Sonia Chatham in the Magnus Wake-directed Dark Sense. Image Credit:

Dark Sense revolves around Simon. In addition to playing the piano, Simon possesses an extraordinary supernatural power. This is a power Simon had since childhood. Simon, as the young man, sees this power is more of a curse than it is a gift. Becuase of his exceptional powers, Simon is able to track down a serial killer. But by using his powers, Simon places himself in conflict with a government agency that views him as a threat to society.

Is there a Film Trailer?

Book Cover for First and Only. Image Credit:
Book Cover for First and Only. Image Credit:

Is the film based on a book?

The source material for Wake’s film is Peter A. Flannery’s 2013 bestseller First and Only.

Because Flannery’s book is available on Amazon Prime,  subscribers can access a free Kindle digital copy of First and Only. Individuals can also purchase an Audible Audiobook version of the book for $19.58 or use an Audible Credit.

No Studio Gimmicks for Wake’s Production

The Wake directed is Scottish productions in that the narrative does not call for needless CGI effects to drive the story. Such effects are quintessential of Hollywood cinematic creations, not those from across the pond.

Audience Reception

While Dark Sense too slow for American film tastes, not everyone’s tastes line up perfectly. This is fine. It does not matter which aspect of life one speaks of, not everyone’s tastes are the same. This is an aspect of Scottish productions where critics and viewers have clear divisions. From certain perspectives, especially if the critic does not culturally identify with the production, such pacing is more often a detriment than an asset. The same is true for accents but then, that is what subtitles are for.

If you are not from Scotland and or do not have a strong familiarity with the Glaswegian accent, it can be difficult for individuals from far-flung foreign fields to accurately discern what it is the characters are talking about. Consequently, viewers are likely to not watch the film to completion.  Fortunately, unlike a lot of Scottish productions, Dark Sense does not have this issue. Simone Pereira Hind, the individual responsible for casting Dark Sense, did a marvellous job acting talent with softer Scottish accents. If this were not the case, many English speakers could probably not follow the story without resorting to subtitles.

Simon Promotional Poster. Image Credit:
Simon Promotional Poster. Image Credit:

Where have We Seen Dark Sense Characters Before?

Dark Sense is not the first time Wake brought Flannery’s characters to life. In 2016, with an Alistair Rutherford written screenplay adaptation, Wake was responsible for directing the eight-minute short Simon. In the short, Corin Edgar Robert the title character.

Scenes taken from the short are in Dark Sense‘s opening sequence. After a 14-year time jump, we find Shane O’Meara playing an adult Simon. Appropriately, the introduction for both the young Simon and adult Simon is the same. In the opening scene, the young Simon is playing the piano. After the time jump, the adult Simon is playing the same piano. After 14-years, Simon’s pianist skills are readily apparent.

O’Meara is probably better known in the British Isles for is work on such television productions as Waterloo Road and Doctors. Currently working on the television film Adulting, O’Meara is yet to see a proper breakout star propelling production in a lead or supporting role. With only seven acting credits to his name and one production where he is seen playing himself, there is plenty of time for O’Meara to achieve fame and fortune.

Cast Members

Further to Robert and O’Meara, the Dark Sense cast includes Jim Sturgeon, Maggie Bain, Siobhan Redmond, Gordon Kennedy, Kim Allan, Sharon Young and Kenny Blyth as Steve Brennus, Sonia Chatham, Amelia Watkins, Darren Simpson, Alison, Christine and PC Cearns, respectively.

Viewers tend to gravitate towards Bain because her ability to captivate an audience. As well as has screen appeal, there is no doubt Bain has stage presence. Bain is exceptional.

As a member of the National Theatre of Scotland, like many Scottish talents, Bain is every bit as comfortable treading the boards as a thespian as she is with acting for film and television cameras.

Dark Sense Promotional Poster. Image Credit: IMDb
Dark Sense Promotional Poster. Image Credit:

Does having a Low Budge Impact the Production?

There is little doubt, even form early in the production, Dark Sense is not a high budget film. This is not necessarily a detriment to the production. If you review cinematic history, you will find numerous examples of films made on a shoestring budget.

Do you remember David Lynch’s Eraserhead? The 1977 film, a cult classic by anyone’s standards, is an example of a production which saw financial success despite the lack of funding.

Funding was so tight for Lynch’s film, at $10,000, the director could only shoot scenes when adequate funds became available. Consequently, because of funding restrictions, it took the writer-director six years to complete filming on the project. On 15 Sept. 2104, New York Post staff writer Kyle Smith recognises the importance of Eraserhead in film genre history. Even though the film grossed only $7 million, on a $10,000 budget, the financial success is apparent.

Dark Sense is every bit as much a low budget film as Eraserhead. Whether Wake’s film will have the same lasting impact as Lynch’s 1977 production remains open for debate.