Darkness (2002)

darkness-2002It’s weird how the biggest houses with the most windows at the top of a hill on the countryside always manage to somehow be the darkest. I live in a large apartment with many windows and it’s often too bright, but somehow the setting here is dark and gloomy even in a beautiful house such as the one in “Darkness”. “Darkness” is unequivocally one of the most embarrassingly derivative “horror” films I’ve seen in years. It’s a film that borrows and yanks elements from other better horror movies just to tell the nonsensical and utterly pointless story we see here. You could guess the story before I even spelled it out for you. A small family, relocating to a job in Spain where seemingly no one speaks the native language, moves in to a great house haunted by ghosts. Cue an unnecessarily large back story, many obligatory plot twists, and surprisingly bad acting from the great cast featured.

I wasn’t sure it could be possible, but with the cast of Anna Paquin and Lena Olin, their acting is horrible. Olin attempts to play the wife in distress screaming and spouting clunky dialogue, while Paquin is often very wooden in her performance and fails to be fleshed out as a truly defining character in the story. There’s the draw from the audience of potential scares and the good cast, but there’s nothing ever delivered to us. Nothing in this ever made any lick of sense from the story, to the characters’ actions, nothing. It’s a complete misfire and botching of a potentially interesting story, and completely wastes the talents the cast has to offer. I doubt Olin and Paquin will be bragging to people about this any time soon. The movie is so damn derivative. The father has a history of abuse ala “The Shining”, and he even begins trying to smash through a bathroom.

I was left wondering if the original title for this was “Amityville: Darkness”, because there are so much elements here that are so utterly taken from the Amityville series. There’s the secret room dad becomes obsessed with, daddy begins getting psychotic, there’s the creaky swing outside, rain, rain, and more rain, many flickering lights, and a person in connection with the house who happens to have newspaper clippings at hand. The director attempts to pass off the lack of visuals and imagery here as “less is more”, but it’s obvious they just couldn’t show the ghosts at all, so it’s all just basically a waste of time. Every bit of the story is rushed, and every bit seems to be by the numbers as it went on. It’s the standard; the son has mental link and draws pictures, no one catches on but the daughter, and mom and dad have no clue as always. The ghosts in “Darkness” are often more annoying than anything.

They flicker lights, run past doors, draw shades, and slam doors, and they’re mostly depicted through irritating flashes, and the ghosts always dash by a doorway as there’s a loud tang of the score. It’s all so utterly inane and drab. We’re promised so much yet nothing is ever given and in the end it just comes to a halt with a final scene heavily resembling the final scenes of “Amityville Horror” and it stops without any real resolution. While I watched it, it just fades out and the title appears, and I had to rewind it and re-play to make sure there wasn’t a glitch. There’s nothing truly worthy of watching “Darkness” for in the end, it’s a wasted effort altogether. Knowing the original cut is longer and makes more sense, I’d be willing to see this again in its original form, but as for this American edit, it’s a really bad piece of filmmaking. The story makes no sense, the characters are vapid, the acting is bad, it’s insanely derivative and contrived, and every bit of it is very unfulfilled and incomplete.