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edge staff writer


Clichd creepiness The Darkness'

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Poorly conceived horror offering dull and derivative

We have seen a lot of innovative and interesting horror films in recent years, films that use the genre to challenge the viewer. Unfortunately, Hollywood loves nothing more than following a trend successful horror movies beget more horror movies. And some of these imitators miss the mark by a wide margin.

Making a horror movie is relatively easy. But making a good horror movie? That's a good deal more difficult.

Director Greg McLean and screenwriters Shayne Armstrong and Shane Krause seem to have discovered that truth the hard way; their 'The Darkness' is one of the most listless, derivative horror offerings to hit theaters in a very long time.

The story such as it is follows the Taylor family. John (Kevin Bacon, 'Black Mass') and Bronny (Radha Mitchell, 'London Has Fallen') take their daughter Stephanie (Lucy Fry, '11.22.63') and their autistic son Michael (David Mazouz, TV's 'Gotham') camping in the Arizona desert. While there, Michael wanders off and stumbles into a long-undisturbed cave containing sinister paintings on the walls and a set of five carved stones laid in a pattern.

When the Taylors get home, weird stuff immediately starts to happen. Faucets turn themselves on. The dog next door won't stop barking. Mysterious sooty black handprints start randomly appearing.

Of course, the family already had plenty of issues aside from Michael's autism, John apparently had an affair at some point. Also, Bronny is battling a drinking problem and Stephanie is struggling with bulimia. Those personal concerns initially keep the family from realizing that something is really wrong.

However, the occurrences quickly escalate, leaving the family to try and do whatever they can to determine what is happening to them. Michael's lack of communication only accentuates their quest, but the Taylors soon discover that time is of the essence if they want to save themselves fromthe darkness.

There's very little to like about 'The Darkness.' It's not even that the film is formulaic (although it is) or that it isn't scary (although it isn't) it's that it is so utterly unoriginal. It's as if the filmmakers listened to someone vaguely describe a handful of classic horror movies and then turned those descriptions into 'The Darkness.'

Seriously there's nothing even remotely resembling a new idea anywhere in this movie. It's practically a pastiche; it collects the ideas of superior horror films together, but fails utterly in any sort of understanding regarding why those ideas worked. Instead, it just keeps throwing the clichs at the audience kid with different perspective is connected to the supernatural, Native American curses, the third-act introduction of helpful outsider and expects it all to coalesce into an interesting narrative.

It does not.

Instead, we simply meander along, watching logical collapse after logical collapse happening solely in service of advancing the less-than-cohesive plot. The only time it isn't dull is when it's being kind of unpleasant; the film's easy attitude about using Michael's autism as a convenient plot device is a particularly egregious example.

It's tough to be too hard on the cast of a movie like this. It's not like they were given a whole lot to work with. Still they did sign on for this, for whatever unfortunate reason. Bacon is the biggest star here, but he can't be bothered to give much of a crap. He slouches through his scenes, clearly unconcerned with the quality of his performance. He might as well have Skyped in.

As for the rest: Mitchell is a little better; her performance is uneven and a bit odd, but at least she's trying. Fry seems to have two gears sullen and hysteria and moves between them at what might be random. As for Mazouz's performance, wellthere's something I find off-putting about it, but I can't quite put my finger on it. I will say that his level of creepiness is inversely proportional to how hard he's trying to be creepy.

'The Darkness' is paint-by-numbers cinema at its worst. It's an insubstantial and cynical attempt to cash in on the passion of horror fans. Do not be fooled. The only darkness you'll experience is when you walk out of the theater thinking about the money and time you just wasted.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 18 May 2016 16:04


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