Director – Jaume Balaguero
Cast – Anna Paquin, Lena Olin, Iain Glen, Giancarlo Gianinni, Fele Martinez, Stephan Enquist
Release Year – 2002
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Wow, here is a flick I have had my eye on for quite some time but never was able to give this a watch. I had heard mixed things about this film, all the way from “brilliant” to “horrible”, so I really just had to give this a watch for myself to see what all the fuss was about. After finally viewing this film, I can see how both extremes can be said about this film, and I will tackle them both right here, right now.
“Darkness” stars Anna Paquin(who was in the excellent “Trick ‘r Treat”) as Regina, a somewhat troubled young girl who moves in with her family to a gloomy old home. Ever since her and her family arrived at the home strange occurrences have begun to haunt the family. Lights flicker, yet no electrical problems can be find. Her father is losing his cool, her mother is in extreme denial, her younger brother wakes up with bruises and scratches on his neck, and most of all…something is hiding in the dark. Their home holds a very dark secret, one that has yet to be completed…until now.
As I mentioned earlier, I can see how both extremes of “brilliant” to “horrible” can be used to describe this film. The film’s plot is one that takes you in many directions, throwing in lots of elements you don’t see coming. Some may say that is brilliant, others who do not enjoy it will call it horrible. I personally did not enjoy this film’s plot as much as I wanted to. Although all of the twists and turns made the plot interesting, it became convoluted and forced most of the character performances to be just downright annoying. Think Charlotte Gainsburg in “Antichrist” annoying. Much of this occurs during the latter half of the film, with the first half being the most interesting. The development was well done, although we do not get many scares aside from the usual and quite cliché “running shadow” scares.
The best aspect of this film is it’s direction. I was surprised yet not surprised to see after viewing this film that this film’s director is one of the co-directors for one of my favorite horror films…”REC”! Jaume Balaguero beautifully shot this film and it shows this guy had talent years before “REC” came about. The atmosphere was perfect, especially his use of shadows. I honestly do not think anyone can do a better job using shadows than Mr. Balaguero did in this film. The creep factor in this film had A LOT of potential, but unfortunately it was not really taken advantage of and we got very few real scares. The first TRUE scare came an hour into the film. Yes, ONE HOUR passed before we got any type of effective scare. Pacing-wise Mr. Balaguero could have done a much better job, although I will give him some slight leeway due to this film’s slow development coming as a result of the film’s writing, which he did have something to do with given he co-write this flick with Fernando de Felipe.
Overall, this is a mediocre film that had a lot of potential but fell flat on it’s face thanks to over-pretentious writing. The direction and visuals are amazing, but that is about all the positive you are going to get out of this flick. Only give this a watch if you enjoy these supernatural haunted house type flicks or would like to see Jaume Balaguero’s pre-REC work.