Posted on June 18, 2007 by Flames
Upon watching the unrated DVD version of Jaume Balaguero’s Darkness (2002/2005), I experienced a first. It was the first time that I would rather have been watching a safely edited PG-13 version of a horror movie (U.S. 2004 theatrical release). It’s not because the unrated version of Darkness is too frightening, gory, or disturbing, but rather it’s longer and given this movie’s lack of originality or anything entertaining at all, length in this case is a negative attribute.
Darkness stars Anna Paquin as Regina, a teenager who moves with her family to an old house in the Spanish countryside. At night, strange things begin happening to Regina’s little brother, Paul (Stephan Enquist). Soon we learn that the house was the site of a botched sacrificial ritual 40 years earlier involving 7 kids, an eclipse, and some other clichés. The dark entity residing in the house has a connection to Regina’s dad, Mark (Lain Glen), and as another eclipse approaches, it’s up to Regina, her mother, Maria (Lena Olin), and her boyfriend, Carlo (Fele Martinez), to once again botch the pending ritual.
Darkness is a hodge-podge of poorly executed clichés, drawn out over nearly two hours of non-frightening boringness. The checklist is as follows: Little kid drawing pictures of dead people with crayons? Check. Dark figures running through the frame in foreground, while unsuspecting characters go about their business in the background? Check. Ghosts that move weirdly down hallways via cheesy editing devices? Check. There’re even a couple of inexplicable beings who creepy-crawl across the ceiling to boot.
The cast seems capable, but even they appear to be uninterested in the movie. Anna Paquin snores through her lines in a monotone akin to Ben Stein’s in Ferris Bueller’s Day off, while Lena Olin tries going over the top to inject some sort of life into her lines. The results are at times boring, at times annoying, and often times both.
Balaguero pulls out all the tricks of the trade in an attempt to make Darkness visually interesting. He uses every type of pan, push in, tracking shot, and angle up, down, over, under, whatever, to add drama to that which is inherently not dramatic. However, all the digital filters, chaotic camera shakes, and quick cuts in the world can’t save a bad story. The cinematic gimmickry just adds more artifice to an already synthesized plot and in the end it becomes an obvious and fruitless attempt at the proverbial art of turd-polishing.
On paper it certainly appears that the cast and crew of Darkness have the potential to create a good movie, but this thing was doomed from the first page. It appears that the theatrical version of Darkness may have been foisted upon us by Dimension Films in an attempt to cash in on the J-horror boom from a few years ago. That’s an unfortunate reality of the film business. However, while the filmmakers deserve the lion’s share of the blame for making a bad movie, the folks at Dimension Home Video should be ashamed for releasing the original version of this mess on DVD three years after it should have been laying comfortably in a can, on a shelf, and collecting dust in the darkness, no less.
Rating: 1 out of 5
Reviewer: Jason Thorson