Saturday, January 01, 2005


Movie Review: Darkness.

Darkness is one of those instances of being impressed by low expectations.

A scary movie in the vein of The Ring, Darkness appears to have been basically dumped into theaters on Christmas, with no advance reviews. In fact, I hadn't even heard of it before (surprising, given how much I follow movies). It turns out it's actually two years old, and was made by a low-budget Spanish production house.

Darkness follows a dysfunctional American family recently moved to Spain. They've moved into the typically evil house, and hilarity ensues.

So, is it any good?

Well, it's not bad. In fact, it does a lot of things very good. It builds slowly, and relies on a lot of subtle tricks to build tension. Ghostly children hidden out of frame, flickering lights, pencils mysteriously rolling under beds, that sort of thing. When the movie really gets going at the end, the previous understatement increases the wallop of the latter moments.

However, Darkness is obviously a copy of a copy of a copy of a scary movie, and it suffers. The plot involving Satanic sacrifice is ridiculous, and confusing. The abusive father is played over-the-top by a guy who looks too much like the dad on Malcom in the Middle. Lena Olin is pretty much wasted as the mother. There's the ubiquitous creepy kid sketching the ubiquitous creepy drawings. Giancarlo Giannini is present,

Finally, Anna Paquin, one of my Great Investments In Promising Young Hotness, stars. Alas, the movie is PG-13, so we horndog males get nothin' from her.

Yet, as flawed as the film is, I did get creeped out a couple of times, especially by the evil old guys in sunglasses (you have to see the movie). There's no real reason for these guys to be there, except the screenwriter and director probably got together and said, "Hey, why don't we add creepy old guys in sunglasses?"

So, bottom line: Darkness was better than I expected given my non-existent expectations. It might be worth a NetFlix rental if you're curious. From what I read online, in order to get to a PG-13, this theatrical release was rather heavily edited from the original 2002 version, so there's a possibility the original is better, if you can find it.

One final thought: as much as I loved the American version of The Ring, I fear that whole horror vein is now exhausted. Just as slasher movies couldn't last, the latest wave of creepy-crawlies are played out, and are really not that scary anymore. It's gotten so bad that the preview for the upcoming Dark Water, yet another American version of a Japanese horror film, actually makes me laugh. Oooh, dripping water! You don't need an exorcist, you need a plumber.

Actually, let me say that, if taken literally, the central conceit of Dark Water *is* scary, at least to this particular homeowner. C'mon, who hasn't been terrified of their pipes bursting and spraying water throughout their house? Now *THAT* can give one nightmares. . .

I love the internet – I have several review websites to help people determine what's good and what's bad on the net. I was just doing some research on the keyword "netflix rental" for one of my sites and Google led me here. These posts aren’t really what I am looking for but I just spent some time reading them – interesting.
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