The Darkness – Review (* 1/2)

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A disappointing venture into Hollywood horror for acclaimed Aussie director Greg McLean (Wolf Creek, Rogue), The Darkness squanders a talented cast (who should know much better) amid a tidal wave of genre cliches.

After Peter (Kevin Bacon) and Bronny Taylor (Radha Mitchell) visit the Grand Canyon with their two children, they return home to find a series of increasingly bizarre paranormal phenomena terrorising them. With their autistic son Mikey (David Mazouz) holding the key to the answers, the family unit must stick together to stare down an all-consuming supernatural force.

Rather than rant and rave about the various ways this movie cribs from the horror movie playbook, why don’t we just list the genre cliches it dispassionately spews at its audience? There’s the creepy child, the child’s imaginary friend who inevitably ends up being a malevolent entity, an ominous shower scene, an ominous bathtub scene, a sinister raven surveying things, house pets who can detect the supernatural, an obligatory Internet search for information, a YouTube exposition dump, and eccentric ghostbusters desperately called in to help out in the third act.

This film smashes through the tropes like its life depends on it (and in a sense, it kinda does), yet somehow hilariously avoids baiting viewers for a sequel, perhaps somewhat aware that they’re already pushing their luck with just the one movie.

On top of this, there’s risible family soap opera drama that the movie mistakes for character development; of course, the father is a bit of a lech, the mother has a drinking problem, the son is autistic and the daughter is bulimic, because everyone needs a problem.

Worse still, the cast are totally wasted here (save for Lucy Fry, who plays the daughter and is legitimately terrible), especially Mitchell, Bacon and Paul Reiser. On one hand, at least it surely didn’t waste more than a few weeks of their time, but given the $4 million budget, it’s safe to say nobody got rich off of it.

Full of agonisingly dull cliches and topped off by a scarcely coherent, frustrating finale, The Darkness is almost as bad as theatrically-released horror fare gets. Almost.

* 1/2

The Darkness is in cinemas now



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