The Ghost and the Darkness (1996)

Genres - Adventure  |   Sub-Genres - Adventure Drama, British Empire Film, Costume Adventure, Jungle Film  |   Release Date - Oct 11, 1996 (USA)  |   Run Time - 109 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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This action film from writer William Goldman and director Stephen Hopkins grafts a true story onto the structure and character types of Jaws (1976) to create a derivative but admittedly spellbinding and effectively spooky film. The central bogeymen are a pair of lions instead of a shark, the locals are railroad laborers instead of vacationers, and the setting is Africa instead of an island beach community, but savvy viewers will get the gist of what the filmmakers are up to pretty quickly. In the place of the naïve sheriff we get a naïve architect (Val Kilmer), and in place of a seasoned sport fisherman we get a seasoned hunter (a grizzled Michael Douglas having fun in a role his father would have been comfortable inhabiting a few decades earlier). Point for point, Hopkins and Goldman ape the earlier classic, and the stunning revelation is that it works remarkably well, resulting in a taut, suspenseful film with an outcome never in doubt but leaving the viewer chilled, thrilled, and satisfied.