The Darkside

DOCUMENTARY; 1hr 34min

DIRECTED BY: Warwick Thornton

Other lives: Mailman

Samson & Delilah film-maker Warwick Thornton is out on another creative limb with The Darkside, in which performers — Deborah Mailman, Sacha Horler, Shari Stebbens, Claudia Carven and Bryan Brown pop up in the diverse blend — re-enact interviews that Thornton and his team conducted with wide-ranging volunteers about their other-worldly experiences. The accounts are as naturalistically told to camera as they are surreal and profound to absorb. One woman comforts her dead brother through a song played on the radio. From her car, another spots what she later learns is a protective girl-child spirit. A third encounters a stunningly costumed group of ancestors.


Not every poetically orchestrated story is warm and embracing. There is a self-possessed description of a horrifying encounter with a legless, wall-crawling, Shar Pei–skinned spider-woman. Mailman’s segment features a death-dealing Ouija board that relentlessly targets a family. But the commonality of the life-after-life encounters is a roll call of reassurance that physical death is by no means the end. “Our spirits remain,” one old-timer says firmly, with the serenity of conviction. “Our spirits remain.”