Dimension Films and Filmax present a Julio Fernandez/Brian Yuzna production. Written by Jaume Balaguero and Fernando De Felipe. Running time: 102 minutes. Unrated.
Forty years ago in the country of Spain six boys were brutally murdered in a remote country cottage. There was a seventh boy who escaped the sadistic killings; the police later questioned him. The boy had no recollection of the events that took place.
Forty years later a family’s life is forever changed when they move into a new home – the abandoned cottage. As the weeks progress daughter Regina (Anna Paquin) learns that there is something wrong with their new home. Her parents, Mark and Marin (Iain Glen and Lena Olin, respectively), dismiss her claims thinking she just wants to move back to the States. But when lights go out nobody is safe from the Darkness.
As Mark and his son wait in a bottleneck the two start honking the horn hoping to speed up the process. Cars creep forward and the son believes he had something to do with it. When the father starts to creep forward, his vision is clouded with disturbing images tinted with blood. These images were so intense that he suffered a small heart attack. Recuperating at home the father ferociously yells at his wife and children. Maybe he likes the sound of his own voice. Or maybe the unsettling images have clouded his judgment.
Something wicked comes this way in the form of supernatural events. They start off slow with a flicker of the lights. Periodically, the son’s neck and face will be covered in purple and yellow bruises. The father frantically cuts pineapple in the kitchen and ends up slicing his hand.
Even with a bad ticker and bandaged hand, Regina’s father dismisses her concerns. So Regina turns her attention to her boyfriend Carlos (Fele Martinez). He keeps an open mind when listening to her and believes it when she tells him there is something wrong with the house. With the assistance of a doctor (Giancarlo Giannini), who has evil intentions, Regina and Carlos unravel the mystery of the creepy house.
Darkness has good intentions, but it doesn’t follow up on its promise. The teaser and theatrical trailer make the movie out to be about a family that is tormented by the spirits of dead children. Not so. French-born director Jaume Balaguero uses his keen sense of melancholy to create discontented characters that languish about their rural home. Rather boring, isn’t it?
If you cut out the first two acts, you have a movie that delivers the goods. The problem is that the rising action takes up too much time. It also doesn’t help when the first supernatural act doesn’t occur until a third of the way into the movie. The character development is shoddy. In the beginning the mother is tired because of the graveyard shift she works. With each passing day we see her all the time. She’s always at the house, never getting caught up on her sleep. She may have had a break from work, I don’t know. But it is a little strange.
When the climax occurs, Darkness comes spiraling down to a denouement that is sure to infuriate the filmgoers who haven’t already left the room. Well, I wasn’t infuriated with the finale. Actually, I thought it cemented the tone of the entire film; a bleak thriller with no means of escape.
VIDEO: How does it look?
This import from the French-born director has a better-than-average presentation. The blacks are rich, but the rest of the colors suffer. Since there are some white spot issues, it is safe to assume that no enhancements were made to the video’s quality. The film has its theatrical widescreen presentation (2.40:1) and it is enhanced for 16 x 9 televisions.
AUDIO: How does it sound?
The movie’s audio is a little soft in some areas. Numerous times I had to grab my remote to increase the volume. The surround sound tries to bring out Carles Cases musical score, which it does from time to time, but it endures the same fate as the rest of audio track. You can also watch the film in French. (Sadly, the French language track doesn’t change the direction of the movie.)
SPECIAL FEATURES: Not applicable.
Included on DVD is the film’s teaser and theatrical trailer and sneak peeks for Cursed and Sin City. The making-of featurette Darkness Illuminated: Behind the Scenes of Darkness is nothing more than a four-minute commercial about the film. Looking at the features described, it is safe to assume the Sin City trailer is the only extra worth watching.
(10/10 for the Sin City trailer)