Hot Take: Another pointless, scare-deficient horror flick.
On Friday the 13th, it’s hard not to think about the slasher films of my youth. Every year, you could count on a mindless romp through the woods or a neighborhood or someone’s dreams while a masked or disfigured lunatic would hunt down unsuspecting but typically debaucherous teens until one of them finally found a way to stop them. At some point, we graduated to a different type of mass-produced horror movie. One that promises to be different and unlike your standard horror flick only to be that standard horror flick. Enter The Darkness. (I don’t mean literally enter the darkness. Turn a light on before you go in there, you might trip!)
The Darkness follows a family with an autistic son, a teenage daughter with some serious issues of her own, a mom who is a recovering alcoholic and a dad who was unfaithful to his wife and works too much. While on vacation in the Grand Canyon, their under-supervised son Michael (David Mazouz) falls into a hole and scoops up some rocks with supernatural powers (as evidenced by the spooky music played any time we see the rocks) that Michael takes home with him in his backpack. The family returns to their daily life of largely ignoring each other, yelling and screaming at each other when they occasionally stop to pay attention.
Meanwhile, Michael plays with his new invisible friend Jenny (Jenny from the rock?) and weird stuff keeps happening. The mom (Radha Mitchell) is the first to pay attention to things and she does what any good mother would do: Google it! Then she clues in dad (Kevin Bacon) who decides to ignore it at first then do some googling, too. The daughter (Lucy Fry) has her own issues but also notices some of the weird crap going on.
This all leads to a supernatural showdown that feels like a poor man’s version of Poltergeist and maybe at a budget of $4 million (Poltergeist‘s budget in 1982 was $10.7 million) that’s exactly what they were aiming for. However, the hokey ending falls flat. Worse yet, this movie takes us almost nowhere new. It’s like a hodgepodge of the latest trends in horror films akin to the bad slasher flicks that littered the end of the Golden Age of slasher flicks (Dr. Giggles or Jack Frost come to mind for you, too?).
While Movie Hot Take ranks The Darkness below The Forest and The Other Side of the Door, these three films are practically interchangeable in quality and entertainment value. It’s not that such a trend in horror films doesn’t breed some excellent work (see The Witch from earlier this year) but there are too many misses lately for such a trend to continue to be viable. It happens every so often with horror films that one of it’s many wells dries up. The Darkness focuses on being creepy without anything actually creepy happening. By the end, you’re just happy it’s over. Not because the scares stop but because The Darkness is essentially a waste of time. There are far better horror films out there. Keep the lights on and stay out of The Darkness.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Stephanie’s Teenage Problems
There’s a pretty dark moment early on in the film that leads you to believe this movie has potential to be something different. Unfortunately, it’s an isolated incident.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Lame Horror Tricks
There’s also a scene early on involving the mom going into the attic because she hears a noise. While the filmmakers pride themselves on avoiding jump scares, the scene is bereft with lame horror tropes. There’s a creepy old playhouse set up in the back of the attic, a Jack In the Box, a pile of old dolls (some look to be in parts), a light that doesn’t work and a shadow that moves in the background.
- Is This the Only Upper Middle Class Family Without a Home Security System?
Maybe they should have called ADT.
- And Who the Hell is Jenny?
Michael keeps going on and on about Jenny yet we never find out what the hell he’s talking about. Sorry if I have a hard time buying that some ancient Native American demons came up with a little girl named Jenny to trick this Autistic boy into thinking they weren’t dangerous. Or maybe I’m selling Native American demons short. Maybe they’re that slick.