I seriously thought that I knew what I was getting into when I started watching The Darkness, starring Kevin Bacon and Radha Mitchell. While I didn’t think it was horrible, I couldn’t help but feel cheated out of the possibilities that this film had that never quite materialized.
The Taylors, a typical American family, go camping at the Grand Canyon along with their family friends. The trip goes along smoothly enough, except for the fact that Peter (Bacon) and Bronny’s (Mitchell) autistic son Mike unwittingly disturbs the trapped spirits of ancient demons hidden by the Anasazi Indians and brings them back to their house. After experiencing unexplained events in the house, the family decides to seek help from an expert on the supernatural in the hopes of saving their innocent son, to whom the demons show themselves.
Like I said, The Darkness, at first seemed like a pretty formulaic horror film, relying on a lengthy build up of tension and the requisite establishing elements before coming out with the scares. The problem? It turned out that there was too much build up without any payoff.
The film, while the cinematography and the scoring was pretty good, felt like a watered down version of Amityville, Poltergeist, Insidious and Sinister. But while the earlier movies chose to go with a big scare after playing mind games with their audience, the Darkness seemed like a child who wanted to jump into a pool, loitering on the edges but never actually diving in. It felt like the filmmakers toyed with plenty of ideas about the demon and how to make them scarier that in the end, they forgot to execute their plans. A shame though because there was a pretty good set up that never quite made anything of itself.
A shame because while they were building these demons out to be destroyer of civilizations, in the end, they were easily dispatched by mere mortals who only had to look up their history on google (yay, google!)
All in all, The Darkness was pretty much a dud. For all its set up and good intentions, it chickened out on delivering something compelling and truly scary. While it was not the worst horror movie, not trying seemed to be a bigger sin. I would opt for a movie that went big and failed instead of a film that had potential but ended up flat on its face anyways because it played it too safe. Where’s the horror in that? Tsk Tsk Tsk…