Fourteen-year-old Will Stanton (Alexander Ludwig) along with his large family has just moved from America to a quaint English village. Will and his family are invited by Miss Greythorne (Frances Conroy) and Merriman Lyon (Ian McShane) to a Christmas celebration at Miss Greythorne’s manor. Will leaves the celebrations early and goes for a stroll through the manor grounds. While on his stroll, Will is chased by two large savage-looking dogs and a mysterious horseman, referred to as ‘the Rider’ (Christopher Eccleston). The Rider demands that Will hand over ‘the Sign’, which he is carrying without knowing.
Before things go any further, Miss Greythorne, Merriman Lyon, Mr Dawson (James Cosmo) and George (Jim Piddock) arrive on the scene. They confront The Rider and ward him off. They explain to Will that they are immortals known as the ‘Old Ones’. They fought and won a great battle a thousand years ago against the forces of evil represented by The Rider. But following the great battle, the power of the Light was placed into six signs and hidden.
The Old Ones tell Will that he is ‘the Seeker’ – the only one who can find the signs whose combined power will enable him to defeat the Dark. For the next five days, Will and the Old Ones travel to different periods in time recovering the signs. They also do battle against various servants of The Dark.
Good versus evil; the supernatural
Although blood and actual injuries are not seen, the movie contains frequent intimidation and menace towards children. It also includes threats and acts of violence towards children and adults, and some battles. For example:
- While in a shopping mall, Will is approached by two male security guards who accuse him of shoplifting. The guards grab hold of Will and haul him off to an interview room in a place that looks like a police station. The two guards accuse Will of stealing and become very intimidating, threatening and menacing, making statements such as, ‘Children are always the worst’. The guards threaten Will and demand that he hand over the Sign. The guards transform, taking on a beast-like appearance. One guard has a clawed hand. The guards lunge at Will and try to grab him. One scratches Will’s neck with his claws. With superhuman strength, Will pushes the guards away causing the guards to crash through a wall. Will runs from the room with the guards in close pursuit. The guards transform into a flock of ravens and chase Will, but he escapes.
- Will is chased through forest-like grounds by the dark Rider on a horse and two large black ferocious-looking dogs. The Rider catches up with Will and kicks him, causing him to fall down an embankment. The Rider and dogs approach Will in a threatening and menacing manner. At this point, the four Old Ones step out of the woods confronting the Rider who backs off. The Old Ones carry many weapons including a crossbow, a pickaxe-like hammer, a sword hidden inside a cane and a mace.
- With superhuman strength, Will pushes two of his brothers away. One is hurled through the air and lands at the top of a staircase and the other lands on the floor.
- Will, who has a twisted ankle, is visited by the Rider disguised as a doctor. The Rider holds Will’s ankle, causing the entire ankle and foot to turn black with bruising. Will appears to be in extreme pain.
- A raven crashes through a glass window in an attempt to attack Will and the Old Ones. Miss Greythorne pulls a sword from her cane and slashes the raven in midair, causing the raven to transform into a cloud of feathers.
- A tidal wave of snakes burst from an old lady, engulfing the Old Ones and pinning them down. A cobra-like snake strikes at Will, but is caught midair and tossed away.
- In a jealous rage, Will uses telekinetic powers to hurl a knife at his brother. The knife misses the brother and spears a doorframe.
- Unable to cope with a tangle of teenage emotions, Will uses his powers to set trees on fire and to cause a windmill and a car to explode.
- Will and his sister Gwen are transported through time into the middle of a medieval village battle. The battle depicts men fighting and wielding swords and axes (no images of people killed or injured and no blood or gore depicted). One man drags a woman along the ground by her hair. One man kicks another off a bridge. A man throws Will into a lake and then threatens Will’s sister. Will is dragged from the water by his hair and threatened with an axe.
- Max attacks Will with martial arts kicks and punches. Max hurls Will through a wooden door, attempts to strangle him and holds a flick knife to his throat. Will uses superhuman strength, punching his brother in the face and knocking him unconscious.
- Mr Dawson and George are attacked by a flock of ravens. The attack is suggested rather than shown directly, but later Dawson is shown wearing a coat covered in holes. Geroge seems to have been killed in the attack.
- Because of a severe storm, Miss Greythorne’s manor house is used as a refuge by the entire village population. The Rider uses his powers to freeze the inside of the manor solid, causing icicles to hang from the ceiling. The Rider threatens Will to hand over the Signs or he will hurt those who are dear to him. The Rider then causes spear-like icicles to fall from the ceiling, narrowly missing the people below. The Rider then specifically targets Will’s father hurling arrow-like icicles at him, Will pulls his father out of the path of the projectiles. The Rider then uses his powers to cause water to flow up hill and flood the manor. People panic and scramble up stairs while others are pulled to safety.
- The Rider uses his powers to cause Maggie to age to an old woman in a few seconds. Maggie then falls into a flooded room, never to be seen alive again.
- The Rider gains entrance to the Great Hall using his horse in an attempt to trample Will. Merriman jumps onto the back of the Rider’s horse and uses his mace in an attempt to strangle the Rider, but Merriman is sucked into a giant black shadowy vortex. Dawson jumps up out of a pool of water and lunges at the Rider, but Dawson is also sucked into the vortex. Will is sucked into the vortex for a period of time, but returns using his powers to suck the cloud-like vortex and the Rider into a glass ball. Will tosses the ball into a pool of water.
- During one scene Will’s brothers tease him about looking at a girl on a bus.
- One of Will’s brothers infers that Will’s apparent super human strength is the result of puberty
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
- During a family dinner Will’s parents drink wine.
- During one scene Dawson and George bet each other a flagon of ale as to whether or not they are about to battle a dragon. Later the two enter an abandoned tavern to make good on the bet, but are disturbed before they are able to drink their bet.
- In one scene based around a cockfight inside a tavern, patrons are depicted holding tankards of ale.
Nudity and sexual activity
- Will has a crush on an older teenage girl (Maggie), who starts to date one of Will’s older brothers, which causes some tension and jealousy. During one scene Maggie uses magical seduction to attract and deceive Will. Maggie uses her lips in a seductive manner to magically blow salt into spiral patterns. The camera focuses on Maggie’s full lips as she blows on the salt.
Ideas to discuss with your children
The Seeker:The Dark is Rising is a supernatural adventure film adapted from the award-winning books by Susan Cooper. It is targeted at a young adolescent audience. The main messages relate to making the right choices, and the ability of good to triumph over evil. You might like to talk about this message with your child as well as some of the values in this movie. These include the importance of courage, endurance and perseverance during trying times, family love and support, and self-sacrifice.