After a family vacation to the Grand Canyon, strange things begin to happen to the Taylor’s. It seems like their family is falling apart. At the same time, the young autistic son seems to be communicating with some supernatural being he calls “Jenny.” As the family spirals into chaos, the supernatural occurrences only become stronger. The Taylor’s must find a way to defeat the ancient evil that is determined to destroy them.
This is a film that had several interesting plot points, none of which were explored enough. I liked the idea that the evil supernatural beings were part of a lost Native American culture. The problem, however, is the filmmakers only described this in a single online video. Since we don’t see much of the ancient beings in the film, it would have been helpful if more information was given to help the audience better understand their goals. We know the beings want to make the family members either destroy each other or themselves, but it is never really explained why they do this other than briefly mentioning some ominous event known as “the darkness.”
There also wasn’t enough development of the family aspect of the plot line. Things like the son being autistic, the daughter having some issues of her own, and the parents having a difficult marriage were only really touched on the surface. Even when it comes to the son having autism, it is something that is barely discussed during the film. Since he is the one who communicates with the beings and the one who brought the evil into the home, it seems like something that should have been discussed more. This same situation can be seen when it comes to the parent’s marital issues, as well as the daughter’s secret problems. There is maybe one conversation for each of these things that are supposed to destroy the family, then everything is magically better or never discussed again. If there had been more exploration into these various things that could make the family implode, then it would have made for a much more compelling and convincing story.
One aspect of this film that I did enjoy was the acting. Of course, when judging the acting you have to look past the poor character development. Kevin Bacon (Tremors, Friday the 13th) played the father, Peter Taylor. Bacon was able to act through the deficiencies in the storyline of his character. Even though I felt like I didn’t always understand his motivations, I was still drawn to Bacon every time he was on screen. Radha Mitchell (Silent Hill, Pitch Black) was lucky that she got to play the wife, Bronny Taylor. This was probably the only character that was fully developed throughout the film, and Mitchell did an excellent job. Her character was clearly insecure in her marriage, but she still showed a great amount of strength as a mother and was the only one who cared to find out why her family was falling apart.
The look of the evil Anasazi spirits was another aspect of the film that was not clearly thought out. For the most part, you never really see the spirits. They are no more than passing shadows you see out of the corner of your eye. This makes sense when you consider the fact that the spirits mode of destruction is to make the family destroy themselves. However, since this part of the plot was underdeveloped, it made the spirits’ lack of presence more noticeable. The film felt more like a family drama that just happened to have supernatural creatures lurking in the shadows. It is one of those situations where the filmmakers should have either made the evil presence more prominent, or they should have taken more time to show the effects on the family members.
While The Darkness is not by any means a horrible film, it is definitely a forgettable one. This film had so many things going for it that could have made it amazing: a great cast, interesting story, great director, and a production team that has made other great films. Unfortunately, there were just too many things that were not fully expanded upon to make a memorable story. Also, the last 10 minutes of the film were dripping with sentimentality to the point where it felt like a Hallmark movie. It is always disappointing when a film with so much potential falls flat, not just with critics but with audiences as well. The Darkness is a movie that will be forgotten by the time the next big horror film reaches theaters.
OVERALL RATING: 5/10