Anna Paquin, Lena Olin, Iain Glen, Giancarlo Giannini, Fele Martínez and Stephan Enquist

Jaume Balagueró

Running Time:
102 mins

Out to buy on DVD 25/07/05

"When where you afraid of the dark?"

Moving to Spain to be closer to his father, Mark (Glen) and his family buy what they think is the ideal home. A few days after moving in his son Paul (Enquist) starts hearing the voices of children every time he has to go to bed. After that Mark starts to exhibit symptoms of a childhood disease that increases his paranoia and becomes prone to fits of rage. As the strange occurrences become more and more frequent, Regina (Paquin) and her friend Carlos (Martínez) decide to investigate the house only to discover that it holds a dark secret that is about to emerge again.

The re-emergence of the horror movie as a commercial entity has seen a torrent of films released at the box office over the last few years but does 'Darkness' have what it takes to cause some genuine scares?

This Spanish production tries to emulate the horror technique utilised so well by Asian cinema but doesn't quite have the impact as 'The Ring', 'Dark Water' or 'The Grudge'. By removing most of the gore and excessive blood that plagues Hollywood fright fests, the Asian approach uses fast cuts and shocks to get their scares. This works extremely well and generates tension and genuine fear for the viewer. 'Darkness' tries to exploit this technique but director Jaume Balagueró and his creative team don't quite utilise this in the right way.

The main problem is the story. While the main premise is revealed little by little as Regina discovers more and more about the history of the house. This works well to a point, building some tension and keeping your interest but the final third of film sees the movie take a slippery slope down into clichéd nonsense. Like many horror films, the final play off doesn't live up to the potential shown by the interesting premise. 'Darkness' slips into clichéd horror by offering no explanation for the 'strange figures' involved in the finale and giving no real reason for the sacrifice and why the people were involved in it.

The cast try their best with a script and finale that lets them down. Oscar winning actress Anna Paquin continues to prove that she is still an actress to watch. As Regina, she is the only one of the family seemingly unaffected by the goings on in the house. The film is driven by her performance but you have to wonder why she agreed to be in the film. Lena Olin is always an actress worth watching but even she can't do anything with her character, Maria the mother of the family. You can't tell if she is been affected by the darkness in the house or her character is so underwritten and developed that she has just been told to look gormless throughout. Iain Glen is just awful as the father of the family Mark. He is completely over the top and in some places quite pathetic, which is a real problem as this is a key character in the movie. Giancarlo Giannini is completed wasted as grandfather Albert Rua but he does have a pivotal role in the movie.

'Darkness' suffers from trying to merge to different styles but not succeeding in any shape or form. The Asian horror look of the film works quite well but the Hollywood style finale, the confusing elements and the lack of questions answered make the movie a bit of a mess. The final scenes try and make up for these shortcomings but even a slightly different ending can't save what has gone before.


Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1, the movie is presented well with clear picture and decent sound, especially for a dark horror movie.


Darkness Illuminated: Behind the Scenes of Darkness (3.55 mins)
Director Jaume Balagueró and stars Anna Paquin, Lena Olin and Iain Glen talk about the story and characters in 'Darkness'. The very short featurette also includes some behind the scenes footage and the cast members talking about how they got involved with the project and working with the director.

Theatrical and Teaser Trailers (2.52 mins)
Watch the promotional trailers that previewed the film's release Trailers Previews of 'The Aviator', 'Garden State', 'Finding Neverland' and 'The Village'


A very average horror movie receives an extremely average DVD release. With only a very short featurette and some trailers, fans of the film will be disappointed with the release. Miramax/Dimension Films should have made more of an effort.


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