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 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 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, like a bit of whimsy with your film supper.
An insult often used to beat it with is that it copies Local Hero's template. What is wrong with that? Since Local Hero itself is a charming human fable set in similar gorgeous locale, why not have that delightful film as a marker? In fact Loch Ness is more family friendly, adult enough for the discerning grown up, whilst beguiling the kiddies too. And lets rejoice the sparse use of special effects, 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, 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 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 creature feature. 8.5/10