“A family returns from a Grand Canyon vacation, haunted by an ancient supernatural entity they unknowingly awakened and engages them in a fight for their survival.”
I guess there’s not much to be disappointed with when a movie looks this objectively stupid, but despite the lackluster trailer and generic looking promotional materials, this movie was actually worse than I expected it to be, somehow. Let’s get into it.
As you read above, the film opens with a two families on vacation. You get the sense that these are pretty close friends, and in spite of this, one of the families completely disappears after this opening scene. We see Kevin Bacon (Stir of Echoes) and Matt Walsh (VEEP) talking about how much “man-stuff” they’ve learned from watching Bear Grills, while their wives, played by Redha Mitchell (Silent Hill), and Jennifer Morrison (House), talk about children and how quickly they grow. In the meantime, Bacon and Mitchell’s son and daughter, and Walsh and Morrison’s son, wander off into the Grand Canyon. It’s hear that the second family fulfills its entire purpose in the movie, with the son, Parker Mack, telling Bacon’s young autistic son, David Mazouz (Gotham), a scary story about Native Americans and then giving him his watch.
Yeah, that’s how it happens.
Anyways, what seems to be a set up for a straight forward horror movie immediately flies of the rails and it becomes an entirely different kind of monster. While the A-story is that the young son brings home 5 stones from a cave, and brings Native American demons into the house (or…something like that), there are a number of different subplots that make this one of the most convoluted and tone-deaf films I’ve seen in a really long time. You have the story of Bacon and Mitchell’s strained marriage, which includes Mitchell becoming an alcoholic, and a previous affair from Bacon. On top of this, you have the story of the daughter, Lucy Fry (11.22.63) dealing with bulimia, in two scenes (one of which involves the discovery that she hoard her vomit under her bed), which is dropped immediately, and you have the family dealing with their son’s autism.
There is so much family-drama happening in the movie that it seems like there was an earlier script that was a very raw, emotional drama, but someone got their hands on it and added ghosts for no reason. It’s a complete fucking mess from start to finish, and frankly it was only my love for Kevin Bacon that kept me sitting through it, even though his grasp on my attention definitely started to wane as the movie went on.
The Darkness was directed by Greg Maclean, the man responsible for the inexplicably popular Wolf Creek, who also wrote the filmk with Shayne Armstrong (Acolytes) and Shane Krause (Acolytes) and the threesome have managed to create one of the worst horror films of the year.
It’s really a shame, because buried under the convoluted plot, there is some interesting and frightening imagery. The costume design on the demons was interesting and spooky, and absolutely the strongest aspect of the movie. It’s competently shot, but these are people who have held cameras before, so I don’t know how much of a compliment that really is. However, even the best shots and spookiest costumes can’t distract from how utterly tone-deaf, and offensive the rest of the film is. Each character is flat, with controversial traits thrown on top of them in an effort to seem edgy or interesting. It’s a hollow gesture, and it shines right through.
The Darkness is not worth your time or energy, even at 90 minutes it feels considerably longer. I found myself completely aware of how much time I was wasting.
MY RATING: *