Nearly every year it seems like we get another movie revolving around a family being haunted or terrorized by a demon or ghost, which inevitably leads to a medium or psychic being brought in to cleanse the house. Well, The Darkness does not disappoint in this growing horror cliche. This time, the plot centers around an autistic boy, played by David Mazouz (Gotham TV series), who steals some runes from a Native American burial site in the Grand Canyon, and the horrors that follow him home.
As soon as the film begins, I couldn’t help but be surprised at the caliber of actors they got to be involved. I think I saw the trailer once, and I don’t remember seeing Kevin Bacon (Tremors, Hollow Man) or Radha Mitchell (Man on Fire, Silent Hill). Nevertheless, they play the autistic boy’s parents and parents of their bulimic daughter played by Lucy Fry (Wolf Creek TV series). I have no complaints about the acting in the film, but I do find it odd that actors such as Jennifer Morrison (House TV series) and Ming-Na Wen (Agents of SHIELD TV series) only appeared briefly and didn’t contribute much to the story. Typically horror films with such a variety of quality actors only exist to bring more attention to the actor’s themselves, while this film seems to put them in roles that could have easily gone to a nobody. It makes me wonder if they agreed to do to the movie simply because they genuinely believed in the script and wanted to be a part of it. If so, I think that’s pretty cool.
Moreover, the music is another aspect in which I have no complaints. Only occurring when accenting a scene’s already built-up tension, the music is subtle and deliberate. There’s no “filler” music that some horror movies include only to deter from terrible acting. No, this music is soft and striking. The pacing of the film is already sort of “off kilter” and doesn’t provide you with any breathing room or feeling of calm or safety, but when combined with the music it only provides a suspense that leaves you begging for a happy moment.
Speaking of pacing, the film itself picks up immediately from the point in which the boy is brought to the point of stealing the runes. The nuances between the family provide plenty of backstory in a short amount of time, but oddly enough doesn’t feel rushed. Given the mother’s alcoholism, the father’s infidelity, the boy’s autism and the girl’s bulimia, you would think this family has enough problems without piling on Native American ghost haunting. You try and wrap your head around one family member’s problem, but soon find the scene changing immediately to another family member already in a dilemma of their own. This style of editing is unsettling and brilliantly continues the suspense and tension from one scene to another.
While it may seem that I’m doing nothing but praise this movie, I have to get to the ending. This is where most horror movies fall apart, and unfortunately this film is no different. I thought the build up was so well executed and then we get to the scene where they call in the psychic to cleanse the house – the scene so cliche in every ghost or demon movie that it’s almost come to be expected. This scene really took me out of the movie. Between the special effects and the cheesy incantations, I really felt let down in my hopes that this was going to be different than the rest.
In closing, the acting was great, the music was brilliant, the film itself was good but the ending really brought it down for me.