Dr. Dempsey is an American scientist who has become a skeptic. He isn't enthusiastic to be sent by his employer to Scotland to (dis)prove the existence of the Loch Ness monster. He finds the locals stubborn, 'primitive' and all but hospitable, not in the least because the Nessie legend is the only tourist attraction. He still gets romantically attracted by his independent inn-keeper Laura, and both her kid and his local assistant end up making him face a small family of Nessie-dinosaurs, but is this to be made public?
Directed by: John Henderson
Predictable? Yes. Innocuous? Yes. Spiritually potent? Absolutely. RELEASED IN 1996 and directed by John Henderson, "Loch Ness" explores the possibility of the Loch Ness monster, at least on the surface. Ted Danson plays a disillusioned cryptozoologist who is sent on assignment to Loch Ness, Scotland, to disprove the mythical creature's existence. With the assistance of a clairvoyant girl (Kirsty Graham) he discovers life-changing things. If you're remotely interested in cryptozoology "Loch Ness" is a must. Despite the fact that the story is predictable, this is a very well-made film. It was filmed in 1994 on location in Scotland and England. Although it was primed for theatrical release, and released as such in Europe, in America it was ultimately decided to release it on network TV in September, 1996. The film has a lot going for it: Danson is perfect as the jaded scientist; Joely Richardson is Beautiful; the little clairvoyant girl is cute and spiritual; the locations are continuously breathtaking; the people are likable and the story touches on important themes of which most can relate. If you're in the mood for a slasher/monster horror flick with lots of gore, this isn't the film to see. See "Beneath Loch Ness" (2001) or "Loch Ness Terror" aka "Beyond Loch Ness" (2008) instead. However, if you care to explore some of life's most vital questions, look no further. Danson’s character, Dr. Dempsey, has given up on love in the aftermath of a divorce; he's also given up on his life's work, his dream. He's a laughing stock in the scientific community. Note his powerful statement to his Scottish partner at Loch Ness: "I'm a joke. I'm the guy who chases looney tunes and you think I don't wanna find something out there? If I nailed a dinosaur in Loch Ness I would be vindicated a thousand times over. I would have it all back and more. But it's not gonna happen. There's nothing down there, there's nothing up in British Columbia, there's nothing unexplained flying around the skies at night. That's just a wish list to make us feel like there's something more to life than the $#*% we got stuck with." As you can see, the film is more than just cutesy family fare or mindless monster mayhem. The struggle Dempsey is going through is real and we can all relate to it on some level. We may not be looking for the Loch Ness monster, but we all have dreams; we all hope to discover love in some manner; we all hope to find meaning in life. Unless, of course, we've given up, like Dempsey in the story. Yet, even then, in the blackest pit of anguish & despair there's hope. There are two general views on life: (1.) That life and the universe are one big meaningless accident and you're just an insignificant bug that will soon be squashed out of existence and memory. And (2.) that there's an intelligent design to the universe and, although it's somehow “fallen” (severely messed up), there IS meaning, love, hope and purpose, even if we are presently unable to fully comprehend it. The film addresses the clash of these two opposing views. We've all experienced the conflict of these two positions within our OWN hearts; it's the clash of flesh and spirit. On the one hand, we WANT to believe the latter position, but life keeps dishing out so much crap that we are seriously tempted to give in to the former. This is the struggle Dempsey faces in the story. He's given up; he's stumbling in the darkness; he's just going through the motions to exist. His smile is mostly a facade. The little girl is a key factor in his potential deliverance. She is able to see things as they truly are, including beyond the areas of normal perception. Dempsey says seeing is believing, but the little girl insists that believing in unseen reality is more important than physically seeing, if you know what I mean. THE FILM RUNS 1 hour, 41 minutes. WRITER: John Fusco. GRADE: B+/A-
Author: John Chard
There's Some Things That Are Meant To Be Left Alone. Loch Ness is directed by John Henderson and written by John Fusco. It stars Ted Danson, Joely Richardson, Ian Holm, Kirsty Graham and James Frain. Music is scored by Trevor Jones and cinematography is by Clive Tickner. Plot sees Danson as Zoologist Jonathan Dempsey, who has now become something of a joke in his field after a failed "beastie hunt" for the Yeti. In the last chance saloon, he's packed off by his superiors to debunk the Loch Ness Monster legend, where hardly enthused anyway, he finds a small community unwelcome to his being there. After finally booking into a small inn run by single mother Laura McFetridge (Richardson), Dempsey forms a warm relationship with Laura's nine year old daughter, Isabel (Graham), who just may hold the key to the mystery of Loch Ness. Once it was finally made available for viewing, it struggled to gain any significant support, both by critics and film fans alike. Caught in the 1990's creature feature slipstream created by Jurassic Park, hopes were high for a very different type of Loch Ness Monster movie. Nobody, except for the film makers, were quite prepared for what type of film Loch Ness actually is. Henderson's film is a human interest story first and foremost, one that has the Loch Ness Monster as its backdrop. It is driven by a mismatched (developing) love story, yet still has enough about it to raise the pertinent question that crowns the story, namely why and should we solve the Loch Ness Monster mystery? It's all very simple and low key, where any expectation of an FX extravaganza will lead you only to a big disappointment. Helps, too, if you kind of want to believe in the fantastical, that you like a bit of whimsy with your filmic supper. An insult often used to beat the film with is that it copies Local Hero's template. What is wrong with that? Especially since Local Hero itself is a charming human fable set in a similar gorgeous locale, so why not have that delightful film as a marker? In fact Loch Ness is more family friendly and adult enough for the discerning grown up, whilst simultaneously beguiling the kiddies too. And lets rejoice the sparse use of special effects, for what we get is brief, and dare I say it? magical. Fusco's script is also witty, with much fun mined from Danson's fish out of water portrayal as he finds himself at odds with everyone except the Nessie keen assistant played with wide eyed energy by Frain. The rest of the cast are roundly great as well, as Danson (affable supreme), Richardson (quality Scottish accent), Holm (grumpy curmudgeon) and Graham (one of the most natural and unfussy child performances ever), lead the way. While good secondary support comes from a barking mad Keith Allen and Nick Brimble as the self appointed love rival for Laura's attentions. Bolstering the film is a majestic score from Jones, with the expected Celtic harmonies neatly sitting along side the more brassy and keyboard thrusts as the narrative hits its peaks. The synth and string arrangement that accompanies "Nessie" is simply beautiful and the reason why this particular writer had to buy the CD score. Although the Highland/Lochs locations used for filming are to die for, the film needed a better cinematographer than Tickner. He's good on something like sci-fi trasher Split Second, where he gets away with washed out apocalyptic colours, but here his photography is often murky and the sumptuous colours of the scenery never boom out from the screen. He does, however, know how to light a pretty face, the beautiful Richardson benefiting greatly here. With a big human heart and awash with family friendly mysticism, Loch Ness is a lovely picture. Thankfully for those who now know what to expect, it's a mile away from being a creaky creature feature. 8.5/10