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Movie Review by Ania Kalinowska

Starring: Anna Paquin, Lena Olin, Iain Glen, Giancarlo Giannini, Fele Martinez
Director: Jaume Balagueró

DARKNESS: Disturbing? Dire? Dismissible?

What is it about the dark that had you squirming as a child and glancing around uncomfortably, sometimes also, as an adult? What happens when you’re in a dimly lit movie theatre watching your on-screen counterparts face the fears that you yourself have often felt?

DARKNESS has your typically troubled family – mother (Lena Olin, CHOCOLAT; ALIAS), father (Iain Glen, RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE), daughter (Anna Paquin, the X-MEN flicks) and a young son – moving into a lonely, isolated house in Spain. Just when you’re thinking that things are going peachy they start turning rotten. There’s no need to ask why when it’s hardly a surprise that their new residence has a murky, unknown past brooding in the darkness…

It’s a fight against time as we discover the secrets surrounding the place before dreadful consequences annihilate all hope in the battle between good and evil. Sound familiar? Characters act out the mandatory stupid stuff that they’re paid for in movies like this. They poke around in dangerous places and blatantly do things that they should by now know will get them seriously injured or killed. Things go wrong in such stories and that’s the point I guess. It all climaxes in a number of pulse raising twists that are on par with your average horror, and there’s a chilling ending to match.

The film is a stylistic blend of a multitude of other horrors, well executed visually but obviously lacking in originality. The images are sharp and haunting, with potential to give you nightmares, but the lacklustre acting and mediocre script result in an overall dull production that cuts, but does so with a blunt knife.

DARKNESS has innumerable dips and low points, unexplained holes and undeveloped characters. But, just like countless horrors that you’ve already seen, it manages to give you a good scare while you’re watching it. A bonus is that it isn’t too long to make your butt hurt and for you to glance at your watch in despair.

Whether you will enjoy it or not depends highly on how demanding you are in terms of your monthly dose of terror. If the mere thought of THE EXORCIST makes you cringe, or if you ran screaming out of the cinema during the last instalment of THE GRUDGE, chances are you’ll do the same here. However, if you are a serial addict and can’t get enough of this genre no matter how ridiculous the film itself, then you won’t mind paying the price of a movie ticket if only to drown a dark hour or two.

This one is disturbing and dire, but not completely dismissible.

3 out of 6 stars