Darkness (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner16/03/2005

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 89 mins

Dismal, badly written, disappointing horror film that earns its extra star purely on the basis of its (wasted) performances and its creepily effective first half.

Darkness was actually made three years ago and has sat on a shelf ever since, awaiting a release date. Sadly, it’s one of those films that should have gone straight to video, despite the best efforts of its cast, an initially impressive build-up and a suitably, well, dark ending.

Move To New House Brings Evil

Anna Paquin stars as Regina, a teenager who has just moved into an old house in the Spanish countryside, along with her father, Mark (Iain Glen), her mother, Maria (Lena Olin, from TV’s Alias) and her younger brother Paul (Stephan Enquist).

However, there’s something creepy about the house - the fuses keep blowing out and plunging it into total darkness. On top of that, her father is acting strangely, her brother keeps drawing pictures of children with their throats cut and her mother and weird grandfather (Giancarlo Giannini) keep pretending that nothing is wrong.

Regina goes into Girl Detective mode and, sure enough, she discovers that the house was once the site of a ritual that was intended to spread evil throughout the world, but failed at the last minute. Is the house about to try again? Or are more sinister forces at work? And so on.

Darkness is an English language film by Spanish director Juame Balaguero. That may have worked for The Others but it doesn’t work here. The main problem is the frequently laughable script, which throws up lines that wouldn’t be out of place in an episode of Scooby Doo, such as “The old man was right!” It also badly misjudges some of its supposedly creepy moments, such as the darkness “eating” Paul’s pencils and Mark’s obsession with putting up a spooky portrait that resembles the Triplettes of Bellville in zombie form.

Cast Save Film From Disaster

The film is saved from one star ignominy due to two things. Firstly, the cast do a good job, despite the lousy script. Paquin makes a good heroine and Iain Glen (already a pretty creepy actor) does a decent impression of Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Lena Olin is probably a little sexier than her role really requires, but maybe she can’t help it - she’s better than the film deserves, at any rate.

The biggest surprise is that ‘grandfather’ Giancarlo Giannini turns out to be (blonde, American) Mark’s father rather than Maria’s father - that’s just one example of how badly thought-out the script is.

The other thing that Darkness has going for it is its creepy atmosphere throughout the first half of the film. This is largely due to the photography by Xavi Gimenez. However, the fact that the creepy suspenseful atmosphere builds up to a risible climax where nothing remotely scary happens undermines all the good work that has gone before. The film does at least have a downbeat ending, but by that point you’ll have ceased to care.

In short, Darkness is a disappointing film that’s just about worth seeing for its performances and atmosphere, but you’ll be more scared sitting in a darkened room on your own. Which, to be fair, if you go and see this, is exactly where you’ll be…

Film Trailer

Darkness (15)
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Content updated: 20/07/2018 21:29

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