Mary-Ann Mowbary is a woman in grief. She’s just lost four of her six children, and has returned to her mother’s home in Yorkshire with her husband, a dockside laborer. Soon, death will come for a fifth. Her husband, thinking of the family, takes out a life insurance policy. When he is injured and can’t work, Mary Ann gets an idea. A ghastly one. Thus begins a tale of one woman’s descent into darkness, one that will leave over 20 people dead over the course of the next fourteen years.
Dark Angel, written and produced by Gwyneth Hughes, and directed by Brian Parcinal, stars Downton Abbey’s Joanne Froggat as the murderous Mary-Ann Mowbary, and Jonas Armstrong, previously BBC’s Robin Hood, as her longtime lover, Joe. Froggat’s performance here is a far cry from her gentle, put-upon Anna Bates. She’s cool here, almost cold, with the reptile stare of a woman who sees those around her as obstacles, and is all too ready to be rid of them.
Dark Angel is a moody production. The sky is perpetually overcast, the interiors gloomy. It gives an excellent view in the lives of the lower classes in the 1860’s in England. It is a dark tale, showing murder after murder, with little relief between the funerals, as is appropriate. Its central character is a monster, and the film rarely leaves her. It’s not a comforting film, but it is an evocative one.
Dark Angel debuts on Masterpiece Sunday, May 21st at 9:00 p.m. on KIXE Channel 9.