Review: Viking – The Darkest Day / Cert: 15 / Director: Chris Crow / Screenplay: Chris Crow, Graham Davidson / Starring: Gareth John Bale, Ian Dicks, Richard Elfyn / Release Date: Out Now
There’s a growing trend for low-budget movies set during the Middle Ages, and you can see why: that period of history is filled with violence and tension and looks a bit like a fantasy setting if you squint a bit. The problem is, that with no budget to speak of, many historical fantasy movies are neither one thing or another, lacking the resources to go the whole hog on special effects, but also being rather limited when it comes to everything else.
The premise behind Viking: The Darkest Day is one that should be familiar to anyone from the UK who paid attention during history class. The plot is that of young monk who is entrusted with delivering the Holy Gospel of Lindisfarne to a monastery. On the way, he meets a Christian warrior who is as skilled with delivering lectures on the nature of faith and violence as he is with a sword. They wander through the countryside, occasionally being attacked by Viking bandits. An attempt is made at making the villains of the movie memorable, but alas they are so interchangeable and bland that it’s by and large a wasted effort.
And that’s pretty much it; this movie is a long walk through the woods, interspersed with violence. Dialogue-heavy, but acting-light, the story told feels like one that would work better on the page than it does on the screen. There are some highlights; Marc Pickering is very good as an innocent caught up in circumstances beyond his control and does his best to add gravitas to what seems to be a pretty awful script. Director Chris Crow tries hard to add cinematic magic to the action sequences, but they’re too few and too gritty to make this movie anything more than a snoozefest.
There is sadly little here for both history buffs and fantasy fans, and though a valiant effort is made at making this into something better than a low-budget distraction, it falls very far below the mark, and is likely to please no one except insomniacs.