by Laura Kyle
...go to bed... or KILL MYSELF. Someone forgot to tell writer/director Jaume Balaguero he was making a movie, more specifically a thriller. This is the most anticlimactic piece of dung I’ve watched in recent memory.What happens when you stick a Canadian, a Swede, a Scotsman, an Italian, and a little kid from Singapore into an American family of an English speaking film written and directed by a Spaniard?
"Darkness doesn't scare me -- it just makes me want to go to bed."
Some weirdly stilted acting and a whole lot of confusion, that’s what.
Canadian actress Anna Paquin heads the cast as teenage girl Regina, who has just moved from the States to I guess, Spain, with her family. The Swedish Lena Olin is her cold, irrational mother Maria, the young Singaporean Stephen Enquist (mother Spanish, father Swedish) is the default little boy who sees things (don’t leave home without one, scary movies!), and the Scottish Iain Glen is short-fused father Mark, who is well, um, losing it.
Grandfather, played by Italian Giancarlo Gianni, is the family doctor who medicates son Mark for a mysterious psychological disorder (see “short fused” above and add on “psychotic”). If you don’t immediately pin the grandfather as suspicious, then you are officially a dumbass. Continue watching the movie.
The real problem of the no-last-name family is the haunted house they’ve moved into. Something horrific happened there years and years ago, blah blah blah blah blah blah (yes, that's SIX blah's), and of course it involves children. Because if it didn’t, you wouldn’t have scary ghost kids lurking around the old house.
So anyways, if I had a penny for every accent I heard in this movie, I’d be rich! Well, I’d have probably about 8 pennies. But still – with the exception of the intentional Spanish/Italian dialects (I assume), this movie’s a mess. I can’t be bothered with describing in detail of how I heard a British accent more than once, from more than one character, and none of the main actors are or play Brits. Bollocks, I say.
The acting is strangely self-conscious and not at all believable… but not for lack of talent necessarily. I imagine Balaguero was yelling at them in Spanish while the cameras were rolling and they were just confused.
The real problem with Darkness though, is not the cast. Balaguero has a pretty likeable style and an eye for imagery, but he can’t tell a story for the life of him. He gives away a good deal of the mystery early on, only saving the story elements no audience member is really curious about for the end, and really doesn’t even fully explain them anyways.
His haunted house is eerie enough and he manages to execute a few scenes that are quite interesting, but that’s about it. The result is a hard to understand (but not because it’s remotely intelligent) wannabe haunted house story, that’s way too bogged down in atmosphere to ever get a meaningful word in.
The admittedly creepy ghosts that haunt the house don’t make a lick of sense – and I get them mixed up with the other force in the house, we'll call it "evil," that can climb on the walls and shape-shift, but only when it’d give the moviegoer a special thrill for it to do so.
Balaguero clearly wants to mislead you so he can then give you a good surprise. Thanks for the effort, dude... but... you know when you’re playing hide-and-seek with a little kid? And they go crouch behind a couch, and you can see their feet sticking out? Well, you pretend to not know where they are, and play along, right? Well, for the most part, I was just playing along; only to be slapped in the face by one of the lamest endings EVER.There’s no actual end to the story (I wouldn’t even call it a cliffhanger, just lazy screenwriting); there’s not even a clear middle, and god forbid Darkness try to pull as many frights as it can out of its PG-13 rating (it hardly tries to get a good scare out of you). It’s all just a senseless waste of a halfway decent premise. Stick it where the sun don't shine, indeed, Darkness! You suck.
link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11001&reviewer=369
originally posted: 05/01/05 16:04:18