Darkness Movie 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.

Cast & Crew

Director : Jaume Balagueró


Comments

Darkness Rating

" Terrible "

Rating: PG-13, 2004

Advertisement

Editors Recommendations

Contrary To Her Song Lyrics, Lana Del Rey Worked Her Way To The Top

Lana Del Rey is no stranger to vicious rumours, but she definitely did not...

Contrary To Her Song Lyrics, Lana Del Rey Worked Her Way To The Top

Weird Al Scores First U.S Number 1 With New Album

The album was released only one week ago and sold 103,000 copies to secure the top...

Weird Al Scores First U.S Number 1 With New Album

Peaches Geldof's Cause of Death Confirmed as Heroin Overdose

The second daughter of musician Bob Geldof, Peaches Geldof was thrust...

Peaches Geldof's Cause of Death Confirmed as Heroin Overdose

Robert Downey Jr.IS Iron Man... But For How Long?

You know who he is. Robert Downey Jr.’s involvement in the Iron Man franchise has been...

Robert Downey Jr.IS Iron Man... But For How Long?

Hercules Extended Trailer

Following his deadly ordeal of being put through the Twelve Labours by his father Zeus and his...

Hercules Trailer

Miley Cyrus Appears in Pharrell's New Video 'Come Get It Bae'

Cyrus also features on the track's vocals, and -perhaps most shockingly of all- resists...

Miley Cyrus Appears in Pharrell's New Video 'Come Get It Bae'
Advertisement

Let Battle Commence: Superhero Studios Fight for Best Opening Weekend

We live in a movie world of superheroes at the moment with franchise...

Let Battle Commence: Superhero Studios Fight for Best Opening Weekend

After The Success of 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes', What's Next?

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has been a huge success both critically...

After The Success of 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes', What's Next?

'Mad Max: Fury Road' - New Stills and Poster Appear From Comic Con [Pictures]

Max Max: Fury Road was one of the most anticipated films at the...

'Mad Max: Fury Road' - New Stills and Poster Appear From Comic Con [Pictures]


More recommendations

Advertisement