Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Darkness

   You know, I was on board with this movie until the last act. And, not that it was a bad last act, but once it arrived, I realized something. EVERYTHING this movie does, the original Poltergeist did better. When a movie contributes virtually nothing to it's genre, and never rises above 'adequate', what do we do with it? Even it's unique imagery feels like something that's been done before, although I can't quite place my finger on where. The Darkness isn't a bad movie by any means, but it's a stale entry in a genre that's been flooded by safe, predictable, formulaic and ultimately tame fare. The Darkness should've been so much better.

   The movie stars Kevin Bacon and Radha Mitchell, two actors who're well familiar with the genre. Bacon in Stir of Echoes, and Mitchell in Silent Hill. I wasn't crazy about Echoes, but I enjoyed Silent Hill. Despite it's shortcomings, it still delivered unnerving visuals, a deeply haunting atmosphere, and plenty of flashy effects. Did I expect anything like that from The Darkness, obviously not, but still. What kind of expectations would've been appropriate for this movie? A movie where the main characters spend 80% of the movie in absolute denial of their supernatural problem? A movie where the tired and trite domestic drama of this family is under-utilized and rather... boring?

   I don't know what I expected, but I failed to care about anything going on after the hour mark, which is when things finally start getting... I guess you could say 'interesting'? But that really isn't accurate at all. Things escalate, but that doesn't make them interesting by default. The movie is about a family that's plagued by ancient Native American demons anchored to a set of sacred stones their autistic son brought home with him from a vacation to the Grand Canyon. I really hate it when it takes forever for characters in movies to just fucking accept what's going on. It's so annoying. To me, it's become a sign of weak writing, because obviously there's nothing else the movie has to show us.

   All the supernatural shit is saved up for the final 20 minutes, because god forbid that stuff gets going at LEAST halfway through, right? I didn't watch a movie called  The Darkness to find out whether or not Kevin Bacon's character is going to cheat on his wife. It's not character development, it's just meandering and unimportant. This movie fails to be shocking, creepy, original or interesting, and while I did say it wasn't bad, I'm becoming increasingly upset the more I think about it. Sure, the acting was pretty good, the cinematography was decent, and the last 20 minutes were the closest the movie comes to resembling fun, but in the end... what? Why would anyone bother with this, when the original Poltergeist does the same goddamn thing, but just BETTER.

   It's underwhelming and doubly so since it never gives its characters anything interesting to do. The teenage daughter is bulemic, something that's brought up once and never again. Their autistic boy isn't afraid of anything, something that's made a distinct point of once... and never brought up again. The mom is relegated to the cliche role of suspicious and worn out housewife who's the first to believe some supernatural shit is going on, and tries to convince her architect husband who's too grounded and worldly to believe in that nonsense. Just ONCE I want a movie where a husband outright believes his wife. Because it's his WIFE. Give her the fucking benefit of the doubt and spare us an hour of your whining and bullheadedness. For fuck's sake!

   Bacon and Mitchell try and do their best with the material, but there's only so much even they can do in a movie so bland. It works well enough from scene to scene, and at no point was I looking at the time or raring to turn it off, but once I realized that it was cookie cutter standard, and nothing that hasn't been done WAY better, my heart sunk. I was kinda enjoying it up til that point, but then I just got upset. There's so many truly scary, unnerving, disturbing, gory, funny, spooky, and atmospheric horror movies out there, that there's absolutely no reason why you shouldn't be watching one of those instead of this one. Revisit Stir of Echoes and Silent Hill if you must, but don't bother with The Darkness.

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