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By Amy R. Handler | February 19, 2014

A seemingly un-hirable young man gets way more than he bargains for at his strangest interview to date.

John Tomkins’ A Dark Tale tells the unfortunate story of Bob Diablo (James Cotter), a man trying to exercise his individuality within a very odd family structure. Bob is the son of Pa Diablo (Midge Mullin), undertaker supreme, and Ma Diablo (Rosie Mullin), aesthetician of sorts. Then there are Bob’s constantly bickering sisters, May and December Diablo (Charlotte Vowles and Emma-Louise Bullions)—all part of Pa’s very lucrative, long-standing business of death.

Alas poor Bob, whose only reason to be is to find and keep a job. Bob’s not a picky sort when it comes to work. Any means of employment will do, just as long as it’s far apart from the family business. Unfortunately, all the interviews in the world (two hundred so far) do not provide Bob with even an inkling of work, any peace of mind, or a goal for the future. That is, not until that very dangerous, final interview…

A Dark Tale is a blackly comic little gem that is both theatrical and cinematic in perfectly balanced proportions. Not many films can withstand any aspect of theatricality at all, but John Tomkins manages this almost as well as legendary directors Ingmar Bergman and
David Lynch— in his own inimitable and bleakly humorous fashion.

The film’s strength lies in its storytelling, which is philosophically and moralistically profound, but camouflaged so that these academic qualities are not evident. Equally fine is Tomkins’ choice of actors, and his careful direction of them, so that all characters, as eccentric as they are, seem completely real. I especially enjoy the movie’s silent moments, where the imagination can run wild among faces and landscapes, both interior and exterior.

Any weak points in the film are so negligible as to be rendered nonexistent, in my critical opinion. A Dark Tale will definitely satisfy any film lover’s palate, and is strongly recommended.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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