Darkness

"Bad"

Darkness Review


I love road trips. Not because I'm especially fond of sitting in my car for days at a time, but because with each passing mile a promise is fulfilled. Every hour behind the wheel draws you nearer to your destination, and along the way you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. But, though paperback self-help writers may tell you otherwise, the journey itself is not enough. You have to actually get somewhere to make the whole trip worthwhile. And if, at the end of a day's travel, you haven't gone anywhere at all, you've wasted all your time and a whole lot of gas.

Like a long road trip to nowhere, Spanish director Jaume Balagueró's Darkness is miserable, frustrating, and hard on the buttocks. Though the film's run time is a mere 102 minutes, the psychological impact of wasting precious money and energy staring at the screen and waiting for something -- anything -- to happen could take years off your life.

Christmas season always puts me in the mood for a good horror flick, so I had high hopes for Darkness. And with The Unbearable Lightness of Being's Lena Olin carrying a major role, this picture looked like a slam dunk. So I settled into my seat and got comfortable as the story began to unfold.

Forty years ago, something terrible happened. Six children were killed in a creepy old house in the hills outside a strangely unspecified Spanish city. A seventh child survived. Now an unsuspecting family has moved into the house and strange things are afoot. The ghosts of the dead children still hide in the dark recesses of the old manse, watching as the family goes through the mundane motions of daily life.

Days pass. The family eats meals and stands around talking. Sometimes the power goes out. Everyone's feeling a little weirded out, but nobody knows why. More days pass. The dad has a sudden relapse of some disease that makes him unduly agitated. More days go by, and the son, Paul (Stephan Enquist), keeps losing his pencils and gets some odd bruises around his neck. A few more days, and the family finds a hidden room under the stairs, filled with some strange objects. And still more days go by.

Somewhere in all this passing of time, the daughter, Regina (Anna Paquin), somehow pieces together what's been happening in their new home. It seems that some kind of kooky death cult built this place with the hope of bringing about an age of eternal darkness. But to make that happen, a seventh child must die. Then a bunch of incoherent things happen and somebody does die. A few people, actually. But it's not really scary so much as it is annoying to watch. And by the time the story finally arcs toward its conclusion, the inevitability of the ending (coupled with the fact that some character always says some stupid thing to completely give away what's about to happen) makes it entirely unsatisfying. I've been to carnival haunted houses with more fear factor than this film.

Jaume Balagueró completely fails to deliver anything remotely resembling an engaging story in this trite, juvenile film. His characters are almost completely flat and undeveloped. His plot is convoluted and absurd. And his dialog alternates between incomprehensibly opaque and moronically over-projected, with little or no middle ground. When he withholds from the audience, he gives them nothing at all. When he gives, he gives away everything.

Darkness is a film perpetually engaged in the building of suspense, like a roller coaster climbing ominously toward its highest and most thrilling peak. But at the top of each peak, there is no fall to be had. Just a slow and meandering roll toward the next big climb. And just when you expect a final exhilarating plunge to send you screaming with your hands in the air, the car clanks back into the boarding station and the ride is over.

The sole extra on DVD is a short behind-the-scenes documentary.

Let's clean it up, Paquin.



Darkness

Facts and Figures

Run time: 88 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 25th December 2004

Box Office USA: $22.0M

Distributed by: Miramax Films

Production compaines: Dimension Films, Filmax Entertainment, Castelao Producciones

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 4%
Fresh: 2 Rotten: 51

IMDB: 5.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Jaume Balagueró

Starring: as Regina, as Maria, as Mark, as Albert Rua, as Carlos

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

War Dogs Movie Review

War Dogs Movie Review

Based on a rather astounding true story, this comedy-drama centres on two stoners who landed...

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

Advertisement
The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.