The Darkness

DARKNESS. 2002

Director: Jaume Balaguero

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



The distributor of Darkness (2002) sat on this film for two years before releasing it for Christmas 2004, at which time it became all too obvious why they'd been reluctant to release it to theaters.

The DarknessThe dvd version is slightly longer with more ghostly images left in it, & more blood on the walls at the end. The theatrical cut should be avoided at all costs, though really even the uncut version is tres stinkeroo.

The premise is that forty years ago during an eclipse, six children had their throats slit in service to the Darkness. But the required seventh child escaped so that the evil ritual was unfinished. Now the eclipse is coming again & the seventh child will this time be killed, causing something bad to happen in the world, we'll never quite be told or shown what.

Darkness is slickly produced & competently if not very sympathetically acted. Young Anne Paquin as the story's only half-sensible character has the unrewarding burden of carrying most of the film on her lonesome slim shoulders. Her boyfriend, though only knowing her for a week or two, is willing to risk his life to help her save her family, & this inexplicable selflessness like everything in the film gives him very little to do that has any influence on anything.

Although it's a glossy little horror film with very serviceable cinematography, what it lacks is a story worth telling or internal consistency or logic. Very little happens & what does happen adds up to nothing. Plus this load of nothing unfolds at a glacial pace.

There are a few interesting & even creepy images of the ghostly children. Rather than being victim-ghosts, they are themselves decidedly evil, for reasons never explained.

There is one particularly creepy sequence which shows one of three figures vanishing from a spooky old photograph only to reappear as a completely different figure crawling around on the ceiling in the dark, which no one in the story sees so it effects nothing.

The DarknessWho or what the figure on the ceiling is & why it was in the photo & why the photo had been hidden in a secret room & who are the people in the photograph -- all these are presented as mysteries that are left unresolved.

As for the secret room, a big to-do is made about it when it is broken into by the deteriorating father who finds the spooky photograph & irrationally loves it.

Also in the hidden room were found some miscellaneous purposeless junk that the daugher rustles through later in the film for no reason, plus there's an old Victrola with 78 rpm record, presented to the viewers in such a manner as to indicate it must be meaningful or important. Once again, however, it is never at any time shown to have any baring whatsoever upon anything.

There's a sequence where everyone gets out of the haunted house & spends the night in the hospital, except for the teenage daughter who insists on remaining behind because she "has something to do" so her boyfriend goes to the hospital too.

This lame set-up to have the girl in the house alone seems like the dumbest go-in-the-basement gag ever, but what the hell, maybe something cool will happen to her (it doesn't). She's the one who most insists nobody stay in the house, yet the only thing she "has to do" is look at uninteresting stuff in the secret room & take some of it up to bed with her.

Scene after scene strives somewhat successfully for a shadowy visual atmosphere, but nothing that happens within these moodily lit sets ever goes anywhere. It's like the scriptwriter came from another planet where no one knew how stories are constructed.

Virtually everything that happens lends nothing to the furtherance of an actual story. The daughter is so often shown speed-swimming at her school pool, one expected there to be a speed-swimming sequence in the climax, encounters with ghosts in the water, something to justify showing us time & time again what a fast swimmer she is. But apparently the redundant swimming sequences were just padding & she might just as well have been playing tennis or eating spaghetti.

The setting was curiously generic for a story that purports to be set in Spain. Nobody whom these characters encounter ever speaks Spanish; if there weren't so many Spanish crew members named in the credits, & a Spanish director, I'd've assumed it was actually shot somewhere in British Columbia.

What few revelations we are provided are too few to add up to a rewarding film experience. What movies of this sort tend to do when they have no resolution for the questions raised by the events is kill everybody off. If everyone is dead, then the story's over, & dying is pretty much a climax for all the characters, movie over without having to wrap up something resembling a coherent work of fiction.

For the audience the movie never had an ending, because none of it made a bloody lick of sense, & the worst episode of the Amityville Horror franchise is a better haunted house story than this one.

When the screen faded to black & the credits rolled with everyone's doom sealed, I suppose we are supposed to feel that we, the viewers, have been encompassed in the Darkness one last time. It only gives one an "Is that all there is?" feeling. And I could not suppress a simple declarative statement to my sweety & viewing partner, which ran thus:

"Good lord that was awful."

To which I heard an even simpler but resounding:

"Yep."

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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