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  • Writer's pictureKen Silvers

The Pale Blue Eye


If you enjoy mystery thrillers with a gothic tone then you may want to check out "The Pale Blue Eye" now playing on Netflix and in select theaters. The film stars Christian Bale as Augustus Landor, a retired and alcoholic detective, who is asked by the military to investigate the mysterious hanging of Cadet Leroy Fry at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York in 1830. We discover Landor is a widower and lives alone after his daughter Mathilde (Hadley Robinson) left home several years back. When Landor arrives at West Point, it is revealed to him Fry's heart was removed from his body. After this shocking revelation, Landor finds a fragment of a note in the deceased hand and marks on his neck, leading to the conclusion he did not commit suicide but was murdered. As his investigation begins Landor is able to get assistance from Cadet Edgar Allen Poe (Harry Melling), who has expressed interest in the case. The two come to the conclusion based on the note fragment that someone was summoning Fry to a secret meeting. Also adding to the case is the recent discovery of a slaughtered sheep and cow found with their hearts missing, leading the duo to deduce black magic rituals must be part of the crime. Not long after the dead animals are discovered, another cadet has gone missing and is later discovered hanged with his heart missing. Then a third cadet is discovered missing, who is closely connected to the other deceased cadets, and is presumed to be the next victim. As their investigation continues, Landor and Poe begin to suspect the family of Dr. Daniel Marquis (Toby Jones), after dining with the family one night and begin to feel something of "off" with the family which includes the doctor's wife Julia (Gillian Anderson), and children Lea (Lucy Boynton) and Cadet Artemus (Harry Lawtey). Landor and Poe place special suspension on Lea, who suffers seizures , and Artemus. While at the Marquis home, Landor discovers an old officer's uniform, and feels the uniform directly connects to the murders. When confronted by Landor, the doctor admits he had resorted to black magic in order to cure Lea of her seizures, which initially worked. Meanwhile, Poe has become enthralled with Lea, and tells her he will do whatever she wants. His words lead to trouble, and soon Poe has been drugged and is being used in a ritual to continue to supposedly help Lea. The ritual is taking place in the basement of a building Landor has discovered earlier, and he later races to the building to find Lea, Artemus and Julia involved in the ritual and preparing to murder Poe. The ritual is thwarted, and matters do not end well for the Marquis family, as the case is solved. Or is it? I will stop here to say there is a surprising twist in the story that I didn't see coming, and if you haven't read the 2003 novel on which the film is adapted from, you may be shocked as well. There is also a revelation involving Landor's daughter that surprises. The twists in the film were great and only added to the mystery of the storyline, and the heart wrenching ending also surprised. All the actors involved, led by Bale, are wonderful, and director Scott Cooper ("Hostiles") keeps us on our toes with the mysterious happenings around a snowy West Point. With great performances and an intriguing plot, "The Pale Blue Eye" is a film you don't want to miss if you are a fan of gothic thrillers, especially one that features Edgar Allen Poe. Now playing on Netflix and in various theaters. (Rated R)

4/5

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