Darkness (2002)

DVD Cover (Miramax Unrated)
Genres: Haunted House Film, Horror
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Jaume Balagueró Jaume Balagueró
Anna Paquin Anna Paquin
Lena Olin Lena Olin
Iain Glen Iain Glen
Giancarlo Giannini Giancarlo Giannini
Fele Martínez Fele Martínez

4.3 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Christopher
Added: February 09, 2005
Four family members move to Spain from the states into a remote countryside house. Mark (father), Maria (mother), Regina (daughter), Paul (son). Their days are shown beginning with Sunday. They start out by throwing a party for their new neighbors and work companions. Monday, it's the first day of school. Regina makes friends with her swimming instructor, Carlos. The first sign of darkness arrives in the evening when the lights start to flicker. There's a rain storm occurring at the time so they think nothing of it. Tuesday, while Mark and his son are stuck in traffic, Mark begins to have flash backs, then falls into some sort of attack. He's taken to the hospital where Maria is informed on what happened. When the three arrive back home, Regina and Maria break into an argument.

After Regina runs off to Carlos's home, Paul starts drawing in his room. One of his colored pencils turns on its own and then rolls under the bed. Before he gets the chance to full look for it, his father comes in the room and tucks him in for bed. Before he leaves, he asks Paul about a musical toy he doesn't play with anymore. Mark puts it back on the shelf, turns out the lights and shuts the door. The darkness begins to fill the room as the musical toy starts playing on its own. When Regina comes home later in the evening, she finds Paul sitting at the dining room table drawing. She convinces him to go back to sleep as she takes a look at his drawings. Every drawing is a picture of a different person, but each of them have large red lines going through their necks.

Wednesday, Regina spots bruises on Paul's neck. He tells her he doesn't know how he got them, but his mother keeps telling him he's doing them in his sleep. They go through another argument while Mark deals with the electrician that came to look into why the lights keep flickering. Mark eventually loses it when the electrician tells him there's nothing wrong with the wiring. After Mark kicks him out of the house, he begins having flashbacks again, but manages to stop them before he puts himself through another attack. Later in the evening, Maria and Regina start talking about all the things that have been happening. Maria blows it off as if it's all just coincidental. As they walk away from the living room, a group of kids are standing by watching them.

Thursday, Carlos is confronted by Regina about her family. When she returns home that night, she spots a man behind when she gets off of the bus. She runs home to find her grandfather visiting. He explains to her what he thinks is going on with Paul and Mark. He says his good byes and makes his leave. Shortly after, Mark and Maria start to argue while they're making dinner. Mark starts to lose is again and ends up cutting himself, then the electricity dies. Maria goes to mess with the circuit breakers. Paul's in his room when all this is going on. His door slams shut and locks itself. There is then a small number of kids behind him, the same ones from Wednesday night. When he starts screaming, everyone tries to open the door but fails. The lights eventually click back on and Paul's door is open.

Paul spends the night in Regina's room. As he starts to tell her about the kids that have been showing up, she tells him it's all in his imagination. Friday, Paul wakes up looking for Regina, but has been out of the house since the crack of dawn. Mark managed to find a secret room behind one of the walls a couple of days before with a lot of old items in boxes. He finds a framed picture of three old adults that he hands on the wall, close to the hidden room. He later informs Maria that there's larva living in the walls that listen to what they say and talking about them. He decides rip out some of the floor boards in the living room to go under the house so that he can find their nest.

Carlos starts looking into the house they're living in, but comes up empty except for one man, the architect. When the two go to visit him, he ends up being the person that Regina saw on Thursday night after she got off of the bus. He shows them the plans that were used for the building, then explained to them what went on in the house. Forty years ago, seven kids that lived in the house ended up missing. Only one of them was ever found. When he was asked about what happened, all the things he said made no sense. Carlos and Regina arrived back at home with an ambulance in the front yard. Mark had another attack. Carlos took Maria and Paul to the hospital while Regina stayed in the house and did a little investigating.

She brought out a box from the secret room that contained all sorts kids material. A doll, sketch book, drawings. After sorting through it all, the phone rings. All that's heard is a bunch of little kids singing different songs and ending with one of them saying "We're watching you." As she slams the phone down, it quickly starts to ring again. This time it's her mother giving her the condition of her father. While she's on the phone with her mother, the group of kids are behind her in another room, but she doesn't see them. After getting off the phone with her mother, she finds the old picture her father hung up on the floor. When she picked it up, there was only two people standing in the picture. The other was above her on the ceiling, crawling on all fours. A car horn sounds outside, as she runs out there to find Carlos.

Saturday, Regina and Carlos visit the public library where the find some things out about a discovery Regina made the night before. When those kids became missing forty years ago, it seems as if they were trying to complete a part of the darkness, but failed when that one child survived. Paul is automatically thought to be the child that is needed to complete the circle. Regina tries to convince Maria to not go back to the house. But she declines as that's what her father told them to do. Regina pays a visit to her grandfather. The architect calls Carlos to inform him that one of the men involved with the children killing was still living in the town. Carlos informed Regina on where the man was located and told him to meet her there. But she was already at the destination.

A very bland script to go with a decent story. This film shared its usual predictability that most popular horror/mystery films do. Whenever there's a dead kid behind any of the family members, they turn around to not see them. One of the kids will run by in the shadows, the family member will look up to see nothing. The little kid is the only one that has some sort of idea of what's going on. When he tells his sister, she thinks he is just making it all up. A lot of characters start dying in the end, but all that happens is that the darkness fills which ever area and a scream is let out. Definitely your every day horror film with a story that actually seemed to be worked on for more than a day.

Most of the acting was decent except for the main character. Regina, which was played by Anna Paquin. She's not use to playing in horror films, so her performance didn't turn out as well as it could have. She over acted whenever something went wrong. Had it been the arguing with her mother or being a little spooked, it was all overacted. She was just too much for herself. Visually, the film had very nice shot scenes. Such as when Paul was playing in his room and the camera would show each side of the door. It sounds corny but it had a nice look to it. The entire house was designed greatly. It got so much better looking at the end when the walls were dripping with blood. Most horror fans will dig this film a lot. Had it not been like every other horror/mystery, I would have enjoyed it a lot more.

Final Conclusion: 6/10
Review by Chad
Added: April 30, 2005
Editors note: There are two reviews on this page: the one that you're reading now, and the one below it. The one below mine is spoiler-heavy, so if that's what you're looking for, check it out. Otherwise, read my review and read the last two paragraphs of his review for his thoughts on the film. You have been warned.

Our film starts out with a family of four moving from the United States to Spain, where the father / husband of this clan grew up. Along for the ride is (naturally) the father and husband Mark (Iain Glen), his wife Maria (Lena Olin), and their two children Regina (Anna Paquin) and Paul (Stephan Enquist). On the very first day that they're there, strange stuff starts happening... Mark suffers an attack from an illness that he supposedly beat ten years ago, and Paul shows up with bruises on his neck and back that he claims were the result of children in his room. The only problem is, there's no children in his room, nor is there any neighbors for miles. As the days pass, more and more bizarre occurrences start to occur... Paul has repeated encounters with the children, Mark starts to lose his mind as a result of the medication used to treat his illness, and supernatural events happen to nearly everyone inside the house. Regina begins to see what's really going on with Paul, but talking to her parents about it is impossible... her father is going nuts from the medication, and Regina's mother is too worried about her husband to listen to Regina. It's up to Regina and her boyfriend Carlos (Fele Martínez) to figure out what exactly is going on in this house, and how to stop it.

If you read my review for The Nameless, director Jaume Balagueró's previous film, you'll see that my main problem with that film was the lack of direction during the meat of the film. It starts out with an excellent premise, it has a fantastic ending, but everything else about the film is just lackluster. I hate to say it, but this movie is more of the same from Balagueró. What we have in Darkness is a storyline that, while not overly original and nowhere near as good as what was found in The Nameless, could have been adequately entertaining. Sure, it's been done before (Thirteen Ghosts), but the formula always has the potential to make a good, if not memorable, film. However, once again the lack of direction on the part of Balagueró ruins what could have been a good film. We're treated to about an hours worth of storyline build-up, after which we see a twenty minute closing act. That closing act of the film was very nicely done; Balagueró makes good use of his talent with scenery and lighting visuals, the storyline all comes together, and there's some great moments to be had all around. Had the movie been ten minutes of plot development with that ending, this would no doubt be a classic in the genre. Instead, we're required to sit through an hour of plot development, most of which is either not integral to the storyline, or is integral but is never explained to fruition. So many questions are left unanswered throughout, questions that I can't put here for fear of spoilers, but I'm sure that anyone who views or has viewed this film will know what I'm talking about. To me, it seems as though director Balagueró has a good sense of what looks good on film (scenery, lighting, camera angles), and he has some great ideas on how to wrap up a movie, but actually building up a film is his weak spot. It didn't help matters to much that Anna Paquin, the lead character in the film, was one of the most horrid actresses that I have ever had the displeasure of watching on my television. The girl can not act, can not scream, can not look frightened, and generally ruins every scene that she's involved with. The rest of the cast ranges from lackluster to average, but when sharing the screen with Paquin, everyone looks like award-winning veterans of their craft.

I've seen both the unrated and PG-13 version of this film. If you're going to give this movie a viewing, the unrated version is naturally the way to go. While that statement may seem like a huge "duh!" comment to anyone who is a fan of horror, it's much more relevant here... what was edited out of the PG-13 version wasn't so much the gore and nudity (only a small amount of gore was cut, and no nudity was to be found in either version), but integral parts of the storyline that may have been too adult-oriented for the targeted teen audience. This results in even more unanswered questions and loose ends than what was found in the directors unrated envisioning of the film. In the unrated version, we find out what happened to cause all of this madness, complete with flashbacks to the history of the house and modern-time scenes in which the house and its occupants make themselves known as a force to be reckoned with. There's some loose ends in this version, but in the end, the general gist of the film makes sense. In the PG-13 version, entire chunks of the movie have been removed so as not to offend the teenaged audience. Fourteen minutes of film hit the cutting-room floor, and only about one minute of that was blood and gore. The rest was pieces of the storyline, pieces that explained the reasoning behind all of the madness going on inside the house. Now, if only there was a version of Hollywood that could explain the madness behind butchering films...

In closing - if you're looking for another supernatural horror / thriller, have gone through every title in the genre and still crave more, rent this one on two-for-one night. It's not the worst rental decision you could make, but it certainly isn't something that you'll appreciate dropping a whole four bucks on. 4/10.
dadarulz #1: dadarulz - added 06/06/2005, 09:08 PM
I think it wasn't too bad. I liked the sound clipping effect, twas creepy, tho it made some punch pretty obvious in advance. It wasn't scary (as most scary movies lately) and it lacked a bit of darkness (especially considering its title) but I'll rate average because I didn't expect more.
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