Anna Paquin, Lena Olin, Iain Glen
Directed By:
Jaume Balagueró

The story behind Darkness is lame and predictable. There, I said it. Lame. The story itself feels like a stew of story elements tossed together in hopes of making soup. Toss in an old Victorian house in Spain, a father whose acting erratically, a daughter (Paquin) who no one believes, an eclipse that happens conveniently every forty years, tons of poorly shot flashbacks and a grandfather who's either incompetent or moderately creepy and you have Darkness.

True to it's name, the film is filled with many sequences and sets that are overbearingly dark. These dark settings promise a morbid lushness that's just never established by means of mood. While movies like Se7en pull this oppressive mood off well, in Darkness, it's just another method to cover what's obviously a lack in funding and possibly talent. And when things go awry, the director conveys the unsettling terror by flickering the lights on and off and shaking the camera about, probably in hopes that it'll distract the viewer from the nonsensical plot.

I guess I could have put up with the "terror sequences" if they had any kind of pay off to make them worth the time. Within the house is a picture of three morbid people, each with black eyes. When the opportunity arrives for the movie to show them off in real life, it's only for a few seconds and then they're gone. This in itself is disappointing as it promised unreal horror found in the likes of Jacob's Ladder and the Silent Hill series and only delivered a horrible tease that doesn't even serve the plot well.

And, that's what really is wrong with the movie. The plot doesn't go anywhere and when it does, it often just dumps ideas off and never completes the train of thought. There are ridiculous loose ends and plot wholes and way too many elements that serve NO purpose, leaving the movie to fell like 80 minutes of tedium followed by 10 minutes of unrealized horror.

Beneath the story, the film does have a few redeeming qualities, though they may only be the bronze lining in a cloud of toxic gas. None of the acting is particularly bad in any way, though none of the actors seem to push their characters beyond their shallow surface emotions. Also, I would have to admit that the resolution of the movie's end is a nice change from the standard.

Supposedly, this is a "supernatural" horror flick, but in the end, the only horror in the movie is the realization that someone actually green-lighted this project. With some serious work, this could have been at least a good, albeit clichéd, movie. Instead, it's a piece of work that isn't worth the time or effort to watch.

- - Vane

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