Film — Darkness (PG-13)

Darkness (PG-13)

by Amy Diaz

Anna Paquin, a slow dripping faucet and a colored pencil that mysteriously rolls under a bed star in the bewilderingly lame horror movie Darkness.

Seriously, Paquin should complain to her agent about the screen time stolen from her disinterested acting by super close-ups of a dripping faucet. The water collects, the drop distends and, wait for it, wait for it, ping!, the drop of water hits the sink, with another drop slowly forming.

Then there’s the pencil. An American family has moved in to an obviously creepy house in the Spanish countryside. The young son Paul (Stephan Enquist) claims that the dark is eating his pencils. So, we see him carefully set a pencil on the wood floor near his bed. The shadow under the bed, sits there, all shadowy and menacing. Then slowly, the pencil jerks and slowly, very slowly, rolls… under… the bed! Oh god! Oh no! Gasp! How can we endure such suspense? The suspense of whether or not the pencil will, I don’t know, roll back maybe.

Other stuff happens at this suspicious house, which father Mark (Iain Glen) sees in traumatic flashbacks from his childhood but never seems to put it together that he has moved his family into the same house. The lights flicker, frequently. Flicker here, flicker there, close up on the light bulb as it dingily tries to stay lit. The flickering light leads the family to hire an electrician, though Mark angrily fires him when he is unable to find the source of the problem. Mark is also angry that no one but him likes a hideous photo he finds of three alien-looking old women and that no one but him can hear the larva talking about the family in the walls. Meanwhile, Paul is suddenly showing an odd collection of bruises and claims things in the dark are out to get him.

All this behavior deeply worries Regina (Paquin) but not so much her mother Maria (Lena Olin). Maria, perhaps because she is tired from working the nightshift, isn’t all that concerned — it will pass, she nonchalantly tells her perplexed daughter. And if her assorted family members were merely experiencing a bout of sinus infections or food poisoning she’d be right. Unfortunately, a once-every-40-years-evil-cult, not some bad crab cakes, is behind all the strangeness. So, sorry Maria, your son will need more than just a night in the hospital.

Here’s the thing with an evil house — it can be creepy, it can be scary but it can’t be terribly active. The house can not chase you, it can not bludgeon you (except metaphorically, which this house does very well). The house’s only ability is to sit there and look dingy. Which makes you think about ways in which your house, if shot from certain angles, could also appear evil. And then you think about all the work that would be required to make your house warm and friendly and then you think who are you kidding, you can’t even get all the laundry done. And then you remember how much laundry you have to do and then you remember that you also have to pay the mortgage on your somewhat evil house before the end of the week.

And then a sudden noise reminds you that you’re at the movies. Don’t worry. You haven’t missed anything — the house is still evil, the acting is still indifferent, the story is still indecipherable and, for a plot involving ritualistic murder, quite dull. You can go back to your list of chores — if you’ve seen one drippy faucet you’ve gotten the drift of Darkness.

- Amy Diaz

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