Dark Harbor (1998) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • A bickering couple drive fast through a downpour to catch the last ferry to their island retreat. In a flash, they recognize a crumpled body laying at the side of the road after much argument they stop, only to find a young boy battered and bruised. An offer of summoning the police firmly rejected, the two help the boy as best they can although it certainly means missing the ferry... and so starts this thriller: a tale of twisted sexual attraction and ulterior motives.

  • The middle-aged lawyer David Weinberg has been married for seven years with his very young wife Alexis Chandler Weinberg. They are driving through a lonely road in a rainstorm trying to get the ferry to their private island. However, Alexis sees a fainted drifter on the roadside and they stop their car. Alexis forces David to bring the drifter to the next town; they miss their ferry and need to spend the night in a motel. On the next morning, they go to their house in the island and David proposes to sail with her, but they have an accident in the mist and the boat is stranded near an island. They find the drifter camping on shore and he helps the couple to fix the boat. When they arrive home, they invite the man to stay with them. When David leaves the house to play golf, Alexis and the drifter spend the time together and he tells that he is a poet, but cannot write, and shows his poems written by different people. He asks her to write and sign a weird poem about drowning for him. Then they go to the woods and when the drifter is going to eat a mushroom, she tells him that it is lethal. However she explains that there are mushrooms that are lethal and others that have aphrodisiac effect. However she does not eat the fruiting body and when they return, David wants to take the man to town. However there is a problem with the boat and he needs to return. On the next morning, David has an argument with Alexis and fights with the drifter that flees. However Alexis meets him in the woods and she is seduced by him, eating the aphrodisiac mushroom. What will happen to them?


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • A comfortably wealthy lawyer and his trophy wife speed through the rain in their Mercedes, intent on getting to the ferry on time to make their planned dinner date, bickering pointlessly over their lateness and the risky driving. Suddenly they spot a person collapsing by the side of the road and reluctantly pull over. The person turns out to be a young drifter who, when roused, resists all suggestions that the police be called or that he see a doctor or visit a hospital. Giving the young man a ride, they reach the ferry dock too late, and take a room for the night, while the young man goes on his way with a handout of cash from the sympathetic wife, despite the cynicism of the husband. The wife begins to seduce her husband, but he is distracted by having forgotten the food at the dock, and she gives up.

    The next day they catch the ferry, oblivious to the fact that the young man is also aboard. They then navigate their runabout to the wife's inherited vacation home, where their pastoral lunch seems marred by an underlying tension. Venturing out in their sailboat, they encounter a fog bank and run aground on Seal Rock. The wife is surprised by the same young man, who the husband knocks unconscious with a tree limb mistakenly believing she is in danger. When the boy comes to, he explains how he was carried off by the ferry while asleep, and happened to run aground on the island when trying to return on a boat he "borrowed". With his help, the couple get their sailboat unstranded and return to the vacation house with the young man where they warm up by the fire and, exhausted, go to sleep. The wife awakes in the night and goes to speak with the drifter on the couch near the fire; he acts on the sexual tension between them and, although she rejects his advances, the husband appears wielding an axe; at which point the wife awakens, still in bed with her husband.

    The next day the couple awake to discover that the drifter has made them a magnificent breakfast, in gratitude. As they eat, the wife happily reminisces about her romantic youth as a student at Yale; when the boy asks for a ride back to the ferry terminal in the runabout, the husband comes out of his funk to demand jovially that the boy stay for a dinner prepared by the husband, the wife to judge whether it or the boy's breakfast was the better meal. The three lounge around for a morning which is both relaxing and tense; when the husband goes off to play golf, the wife awakens the boy napping in the boathouse, and the two engage in aimlessly childish play before the wife takes him into the woods to pick wild mushrooms, on which she was schooled by her father before he committed suicide. She demonstrates to the young man the subtle difference between two similar mushrooms; the deadly amanita rubenica and the amanita muscaria, an aphrodisiac. In reality this time, the boy acts on the sexual attraction between them, using his sleight of hand skills to tease her with the amanita muscaria, but is rebuffed by the wife.

    The husband returns home feeling ill, but rouses himself to set up the promised dinner, then take the boy back to the ferry; however the powerboat engine dies and they return to the house. The next day, the longstanding tensions between the couple and the new rivalry between the two men over the wife finally erupt into an argument between the couple, which suddenly turns into the husband chasing the drifter out of the house into the woods. After he abandons the chase, the wife finds the drifter and finally succumbs to his advances, as he continues yesterday's seduction by teasing her with the amanita muscaria mushroom in an erotic fashion.

    The scene abruptly shifts to the burial of the wife, as the reverend says she committed suicide for unknown reasons. The husband returns to the vacation home, where he meets the young man again; and it becomes clear that the two are lovers who have apparently done away with the wife, presumably by the boy using his prestidigitation to feed her the deadly amanita rubenica instead of the aphrodisiac species.

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