by Chad Nelson
In stark contrast to the title, the first 15 minutes of Darkness look more like a commercial for Sunny D, with a series of idyllic orange juice-drinking scenes. From there, the film drags along, centering on a family (apparently not important enough to have a last name), moving to Spain and experiencing all sorts of Nancy Drew-type shenanigans in their new home.
Unbeknownst to the nameless, orange juice-drinking family, their dream home was designed as a demonic portal meant to open up a gate to pure darkness, provided seven children were murdered inside the house during an eclipse. However, as the tangled plot dictates, since one child managed to escape, the house requires the blood of one more kid to fulfill the prophecy.
Anna Paquin plays oldest daughter Reggie, who is the first to notice something’s not quite right. Cue the mysteriously flickering lights as Reggie tries to convince her mom that something is seriously wrong with their new abode, like how her 7-year-old brother Paul is drawing picture after picture of children with their throats cut, suddenly is afraid of the dark and has mysterious and massive bruises around his neck. Mom thinks it’s nothing to worry about — because it’s perfectly natural for your child to beat the living shit out of himself in the middle of the night, right? And clearly the house’s flickering evil lights and her husband’s sudden personality shift into Jack Nicholson from The Shining are nothing to worry about either.
Frustrated with her mother’s refusal to exhibit any rational thought, Reggie and her boyfriend Carlos try tracking down the previous owners of the house. In the meantime, Dad continues to grow more and more psycho, all of Paul’s crayons start rolling under his bed. When Reggie finds the architect of the house — who looks like Quasimodo — he reveals that the building was constructed in the terrifying shape of … a rectangle!
Quasimodo further illustrates this grand satanic concept of the “Ouroboros,” which is supposedly representative of a portal to absolute darkness, by drawing an oval around the blueprint’s rectangle. If there’s one cult symbol that strikes fear into the hearts of men and women everywhere, it’s a rectangle with an oval drawn around it.
It all comes down to a last-minute winner-take-all battle as Reggie tries to save her family from the evil power of the Ouroboros oval-rectangle hell inside her home. Unfortunately, the characters are so poorly written and annoying that you won’t care if the movie ends happily ever after or the entire family gets shot in the face.
Darkness is a prime example of the disaster that ensues when a director attempts to integrate all of his favorite scary movies into one poorly conceived film. Director Juame Balagueró’s heart was in the right spot, but in his attempt to emulate such as The Sixth Sense, In the Mouth of Madness, The Shining and The Others he’s completely failed to find a voice of his own.
Chad Nelson writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.