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Review The Darkness (2016): Not the comic and I so wished it was!

genre: horror, drama

Meet The Taylors. Peter Taylor (Kevin Bacon), Bronny Taylor (Radha Mitchell), Stephanie Tayler (Lucy Fry) and Michael Taylor (David Mazouz from Gotham). They seem like your typical American family and have no care in the world. That is until the terror starts at their home.

Michael Taylor is autistic (oh yes we never get tired of that plot device) and one day on a camping trip in the Grand Canyon is left alone (way to go responsible sister!) and accidentally drops into a tunnel that leads to a creepy looking cave with drawings of black figures on the wall. There are some stones placed on a pedestal / rock obviously with a purpose but naturally film characters never think these things through and a scene later we see that Michael has managed to return safely and as we suspect has brought the stones with him. Do I really have to spell it out that this is the moment that crazy things start to happen? Only problem is that these events are completely predictable and not even remotely scary. Seriously it's not even creepy or weird. " Oh look, it's a handprint. glad that I don't have to clean that up. awww Michael has an imaginary girlfriend who keeps turning on the tap water. Bad Jenny! " There was one scene that I thought was thrilling which concerns the daughter Stephanie. But not in a way you would expect. Where is the tension? Where is the dread? Come on, let something happen already! As you might have guessed it takes a very long time for the film to get interesting. In total it takes around 75 minutes for that to happen. It's when Teresa Morales (Alma Martinez) and granddaughter Gloria (Ilza Rosario) make their entrance to help out The Taylors with their little problem. It is easily the highlight of the film and redeems the film somewhat. The ending was nice too. 

As it turns out the Taylors do seem to have some issues and very slowly it gets revealed what those things are. And while I understand why they were going for this in connection to the supernatural elements it is executed incredibly poorly. For the most part it looks like those events don't belong and feel like filler. After Teresa's explanation however it becomes apparent that their personal problems and negative dynamics are related to what is happening in the house. Director Greg McLean failed to tie the psychological elements and dynamics to the supernatural phenomena. If he had than he probably also could have cast doubt on the events and making us question whether that what we see is true or not. It would have been so much more interesting. 

Normally I would say showing less is more. In this case I would plead to show more, a whole lot more. We already know it's about ghosts or evil spirits then just let them play around for a bit. I am astonished that they did not even try to be scary. It also did not help that for the most part I could not relate to the characters. Not until very late did they become a little more likable. But had they died I probably would have cheered and applauded. I don't mean to be dark and cynical but one of the reasons why I watch horror is that I want to be scared. I want a movie to take it to a place and then slap me in the face with stuff I did not see coming. Give it your best shot movie! And it doesn't always have to be scary or creepy. But at least do something that puts me on the edge of my seat even if it is just for a few seconds. This only occurs in the finale with Teresa and Gloria and even then it's more because of the spectacle than true terror. For a film that is called The Darkness it's far too light. Figuratively and literally speaking. Don't get fooled by the fact that Kevin Bacon, Rahda Mitchell or Paul Reiser are in this. They are only adequate and probably aren't even trying hard to make the best of it. The Darkness is a total waste of your time. Stay clear from it. 

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