Falls apart halfway through.
Review by: MiamiMovieCritic
Added: 7 years ago
The Black Pages certainly has an intriguing concept, but the film falls apart halfway through. This is one of those cases where the ideas simply didn’t end up on the screen, but instead stayed locked up inside the filmmaker’s head.
I think the best way to explain why the film doesn’t work is to go through it step by step and point out what isn’t clear. After repeat viewings, here’s what I’ve come up with…
We’re shown news footage explaining that a young boy, Randal Huts, has just died. He was the heir to a fortune, and police suspect foul play. In the footage we also see a girl, Caitlin, who will be the film’s protagonist. Nothing in the footage suggests the children are related, though the end credits state that Caitlin’s last name is Huts. So we can assume (only from the credits) that they’re brother and sister.
Next we see Caitlin by herself by a creek. She pulls on a chain, and a box emerges from the creek bed. In the box is a book. She hears a phone ringing inside an abandoned house in the woods (a very spooky idea) and answers. A voice welcomes her to “the Black Pages, the directory to the dead.” She opens the book and sees Randal’s name in it, along with a phone number. She dials the number and, sure enough, Randal answers: “Somebody did this to me. They need to get what they deserve.”
From this point on, I’m utterly lost. I have no idea where Caitlin is at 4:35. She appears to be jumping out of a castle window. She burns down a house, where a teenage girl, Hillary, is talking on a telephone. Is Caitlin taking revenge? Is Hillary the one who killed Randal? Is she the one who needs to “get what they deserve?” Your guess is as good as mine. The next day, when Caitlin sees a headline about Hillary’s death, she looks shocked – as if she didn’t know anyone would be inside the house when she burned it to the ground. This makes hella sense.
I’ve admired other films directed by Andrew Pearce, but this one eluded me. The film is often beautiful to look at, especially when Caitlin approaches the creek and as she runs away from the burning house. Certain elements (like the discovery of the book and the abandoned house) have a Brothers Grimm quality. There’s definitely potential here, but it’s buried beneath an avalanche of plot holes.