In THE PALE BLUE EYE (2022), a weary constable is called to solve a series of murders occurring at West Point military academy, teaming up with cadet Edgar Allan Poe during his investigation. The performances–notably Christian Bale, Harry Melling, and Toby Jones–and an emotionally powerful ending make this a standout Gothic film.
Based on the novel by Louis Bayard, the film is essentially Gothic horror, though it mashes up prominent thriller and mystery elements to make it modern and more engaging. The 1820s atmosphere is suitably dreary, dark, and cold, reflecting not only the inhospitable winter but also Constable Landor’s inner emotional landscape, as he is grieving. Everything comes together properly in the story, and the final reveal is surprising and delivers the goods with a real punch.
That being said, well, it’s just me, but Gothic stories tend to either be bad or at best pretty good for me. They’re slow burners leaning heavily on an overly familiar atmosphere, and as a result I find them a bit of a test of endurance. THE PALE BLUE EYE, however, is pretty good.
The acting, however, is fantastic. Bale conveys his emotions with incredible nuance and subtle power, Melling pretty much inhabits what I think the real Poe might have been like in the flesh, and Toby Jones always delivers as one of the best character actors in the business. The final scenes are riveting.
So overall, this one is a solid film and a standout in the genre, an easy recommendation for fans of Gothic horror.