I’ve got to say, I’m perfectly fine with filling out my 100 2016 movies with a bunch of low-budget horror films. They aren’t all great, but I usually enjoy them on some level, and I always appreciate looking at the supernatural and/or darker aspects of our world through someone else’s lens.
When I saw Kevin Bacon pop up in the advertising for The Darkness, I couldn’t help but think back to his 1999 horror vehicle Stir of Echoes. I liked that one, but it was a little too “metal” (so to speak) for my personal tastes. I prefer lower-key horror with moody atmosphere and slow-burn scares. When a horror film heavily features “Paint it Black” in its marketing and soundtrack, it loses a bit of the desired unsettling vibe in exchange for perceived cool factor. Quiet is much scarier than loud. Regardless, that one was pretty good, so here I found myself hoping Bacon would feature in another winner, but one that adheres closer to my personal preferences.
Also, Ming-Na Wen, a.k.a. Agent Melinda May from “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”! So hooray! On top of that, Radha Mitchell, as well! I know her best from one of my favorite horror films: “Silent Hill”! That film is overlooked and disregarded simply because it was based on a video game (by the way, “Silent Hill 2” is one of my favorite games of all time. When I bought it on release day and sat down to play it, less than ten minutes in, I had to put it away until the sun came up the next day, because it was freaking me out. I was in GRAD SCHOOL at the time! Kudos to Konami for hat entire series and for making some fun, creepy movies out of it, too.), but that’s unfair. Very unnerving with unique creatures, an amazing soundtrack, a top-tier cast, and an amazing villain in Pyramid Head, it’s a cult classic, for sure.
So, this one has a great pedigree in front of the camera. Director Greg McLean previously directed a small little horror movie in 2005 called Wolf Creek. That was a good one, too. So, though I wasn’t sure why he hadn’t done much since, I went into this one feeling optimistic.
For the most part, that optimism didn’t bear itself out. While I didn’t hate the movie, I also suspect that virtually everything I saw will be forgotten relatively soon. No real impression – no mental footprint – was made due to the fact that nothing all that memorable or exciting took place.
I liked the atmosphere just fine. And there were a couple of nice visuals. But the remainder of the film was pretty by-the-book. This includes the stupid, unbelieving husband (sometimes boyfriend but a husband here) who thinks the wife is crazy for thinking their house is haunted. For all of the accusations of sexism towards women in Hollywood, things like this get routinely overlooked. For what it’s worth, I’m not offended by it. It isn’t an attempt at any sort of statement about men, women, or anything else. The filmmakers simply needed to fill out their plot and they did so in a sadly lazy and unimaginative way.
And those are the words that sum The Darkness up pretty succinctly. Not awful. Not maddening. Just bland. I felt no tension. I never jumped. I wasn’t invested in the characters. And Ming-Na only appeared for a few minutes. We need more Ming-Na, people. The beginning seemed like it was almost directly lifted from The X-Files: Fight the Future, as well. So, right off the bat, I had already felt as if I’d seen it before.
A bit of a letdown this time, then. It happens. I imagine everyone in the cast and crew worked hard on it. If you really want to see it, go. Don’t let me talk you out of it. Make up your own mind. But, my suggestion is to wait for The Conjuring 2 and, in the meantime, check out Captain America: Civil War and Money Monster.
And that’s another ten movies down for me! Don’t leave me, yet! We’ve got a way to go!