Australian actress Radha Mitchell (“Pitch Black”, “Silent Hill”, and “The Crazies”) is the wife and mother, Bronny.
Lucy Fry, as daughter Stephanie, might be recognized from “Vampire Academy”, and she apparently played a mermaid once…
David (Dah-veed) Mazouz who starred long side Keifer Sutherland in “Touch” and can now be seen as Bruce Wayne on “Gotham” plays the young autistic son, Mikey.
Heading them all up is the dad, Pete, played by Kevin Bacon of, well.. Kevin Bacon fame.
Directed by Greg McLean, whose previous work includes “Rogue”, about a man eating crocodile, and “Wolf Creek” which concerned some back packers in the Australian outback terrorized by a sadistic local. McLean is also a member of Total Film Magazines Alan Jones’, “Splat Pack”! This group made up with directors making brutally violent horror films. Some of the other members, Darren Lynn Bousman, Eli Roth, & Rob Zombie.
Now with McLean at the helm, and with an actress not unfamiliar with the violent action film, you might think you’ll be sitting down to a blood soaked scare-fest! Well, unless you happened to notice that the two writers in conjunction with McLean, Shayne Armstrong & Shane Krause, are the creators and writers for the 2009 “Doctor Who” spin-off series, “K-9”. Now you might be thinking this will be a little tempered and you’d be right. Coming in at a solid PG-13 rating, this could almost be considered, “family viewing” material. In fact, you cut out the obligatory PG-13 allowed f-bomb, this could almost be PG!
The Darkness begins with a couple of families camping in Nowhere-Utah-Colorado-New Mexico-Arizona-ville.
While hiking, the first of MANY unimportant story elements, teen boy character, leads Stephanie and Mikey into the canyons of where ever they are. When he and Stephanie wander off a little too far, Mikey discovers in pure plot-contrivance fashion, a hidden cave and within that cave, 5 carved stones on an alter. He of course pockets the stones.
The next scene is everyone back at camp as if nothing happened and the trip is over as the two families go their separate ways.
Well, as you’d expect, things begin to go a bit weird. Mikey, begins to act even more odd than usual. The family tries to write it off as his autism manifesting itself in a new and different way. While they deal with faucets seemingly turning themselves on, a weird smell in the house, and the neighbors dog going crazy, they also deal with Bronny’s struggle with alcoholism, Stephanie’s discovered to be bulimic, and Pete deals with NOT having an affair with the new intern, something that he has apparently done in the past. Most of what I just mentioned, you can forget about, as none of it plays into the film whatsoever! And that is my biggest problem with the film.. All these small, and sometimes major, details are brought in to the story, and in the end they are just things created to give everyone else something to do while Mikey welcomes the demons into our world.
Oh, did I not mention the demons? Yeah, there are dark spirits from another dimension trying to come into our world. Thanks to the most informative Youtube-like video ever created, we learn that they tried once before and the Anasazi tribes defeated them and trapped them into, wait for it.. did you guess? Yup, 5 carved stones!
MIkey’s autism is the only character element that has any significance to the story and even that is periphery at best. It gives him and excuse to behave strangely and not have anyone really take notice, and while in the end, it is his autistic view on the world that saves that day, it is telegraphed so early on in the film, that it comes as no surprise. Seriously, if you can’t figure out how the film ends by about the 40 minute mark, you are not paying attention.
The film, according to Greg McLean, is based on an actual haunting, whose story was told to him first hand. If you watch this and don’t get the idea that it was someone who watched “Poltergeist” at too young of an age and thought it actually happened, email me and let me know.
I tuned in after reading the synopsis and thinking that mystic stones, dark forces, and Kevin Bacon can’t be all that bad. Sounded like a great recipe for a horror film! Little did I know that what was encoded on that Blu-ray, WAS a great recipe, but all mixed in the wrong amounts and to top it off, someone went and added pecans and almonds. I hate pecans and almonds.
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(The music used is composed and performed by Mark Mosher (https://markmoshermusic.com) CC BY-NC 3.0)