The press kits that accompany most films usually aren't very useful beyond telling you how to spell the actors' names, but the one for The Eclipse was insightful. The film is an unusual mixture of somber character drama and supernatural horror, and the statement from director Conor McPherson confirms something I'd suspected from watching it: the supernatural elements were wedged into the screenplay after everything else.

McPherson says he started with a screenplay based on a short story by Billy Roche but was stymied in his efforts to make it work as a film until he came up with the ghosty stuff. It's a shame (or, rather, it's a shame that it's so obvious), because films that combine these two disparate genres successfully are rare. And The Eclipse, even with its flaws, is still a respectable effort, with sensitive performances and shrewd direction. It just doesn't live up to its promise.

It is set in the quaint Irish town of Cobh, where a widowed schoolteacher named Michael Farr (Ciaran Hinds) lives with his two teenage children and still mourns the death of his wife two years ago. Michael writes fiction for a hobby and longs to do it professionally, a desire that is increased by his involvement with Cobh's annual literary festival. Authors come to town from around the world to do readings and signings, and Michael is part of the volunteer staff, driving guests to their hotels, that sort of thing.