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.
PICTURE & SOUND
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
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.
The Devil's Backbone
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