Starring: Anna Paquin, Lena Olin, and Iain Glenn
Director: Jaume Blaguero
Rating: Three of Ten Stars
Regina (Paquin), a troubled teen, moves with her family to a house with a dark and mysterious past in the countryside. Soon, strange events start to occur--whenever darkness settles over the house, it's as though a transformation takes place and other residents start to appear. Her parents (Olin and Glenn) remain oblivious to the growing danger and terror, so Regina comes to the realization that it is up to her to unlock the secrets hidden in the house's past if the evil growing within it is to be stopped before it consumes her family.
"Darkness" is a movie that tries to be a haunted house story and fails miserably. The primary reason for this is the same that doomed the Worst Big Screen Release Horror Movie of 2005 "Boogeyman" (my review, at Movies You Should Die Before You See); build-up without pay-off does not make a horror movie, it makes audiences bored. The same true of spooky images of shadowy figures standing just out of view of the principle characters--if nothing comes of them, they stop being disturbing. Some of these would-be horror movie makers would benefit from watching a horror movie or two, I think.
That said, I think "Darkness" will appeal to teenagers, but few others. They'll be able to identify with Regina, as she is the only member of her family with a brain in her head. (The father is coming unglued, her little brother is behaving strangely... yet her thick-skulled mother doesn't notice and refuses to listen when it's pointed out to her.) Yep... the Anna Paquin character will be seen as Everyteen by the 14-19 year-old set. The rest of us will be bored, as "Darkness" contains no scares, a plot that is so muddled it's hard to tell whether the actors are doing a good job or not, because one isn't really sure what they're supposed to be reacting to.
It isn't until the final 15 minutes or so that those of us who aren't teenagers will find something to entertain us in "Darkness," as the secrets of the house come to light and the plot finally stars going somewhere. FINALLY, we get something other than ghosts standing around in rooms and staring at unawares Paquin, Glenn, and Olin, and we get some genuine scares; this final sequence earns the pic a whole Star by itself. The ending of the film is also pretty chilling (even if I'm a bit unclear as to exactly what it means). Still, it's too little and way too late to save "Darkness" from being just another badly done movie.
(Note: I watched the DVD release of the "Unrated Version." I'm not sure what in it makes it "unrated"--other than, I suppose, they didn't send that particular cut to the Ratings Board--so maybe the theatrical release wasn't as tedious.)