The Darkness Blu-ray Review
Every family dreams of having at least one memorable vacation together. The Taylor clan has opted for a trip to the Grand Canyon, camping in some of the most gorgeous locales the area has to offer.
Sometime in the middle of their trip, Mikey (David Mazouz, who plays the young Bruce Wayne on Fox’s GOTHAM), the youngest sibling who is also autistic, is left alone. While awaiting his sister Stephanie’s (Lucy Fry, who played Marina Oswald in the Stephen King adaptation 11.22.63) return, he falls through a layer of sand, sending him underground. There, he picks up a small collection of shiny rocks, which he takes with him back home to Los Angeles.
It’s not long before strange things start happening: Mikey blames a household mishap on a “new friend” named Jenny who lives in the wall; handprints appear on a fogged mirror; the dog is going haywire…And there’s the snake that appears out of nowhere, a blanket that moves on its own and a bedroom wall on fire. Certainly nothing like this ever happened after a trip to Walley World. Meanwhile, the heads of the household, Peter (Kevin Bacon, whose TV series THE FOLLOWING ended last year) and Bronny (Radha Mitchell, LONDON HAS FALLEN), are just trying to keep it all together, unaware of the dangers that await.
There are some attempts to add real problems to the characters, like giving Stephanie an eating disorder, Peter an attractiveness towards a new assistant and Bronny a love for the bottle. But none of these are portrayed as anything other than forced and simplified, as if the writers pulled from a pile of abandoned network dramas. (Even the poster tries too hard; instead of subtly placed handprints on a blanket, they’re blindly stamped into a clutter, an almost too convenient similitary to the writers’ approach not to point out.) The biggest shame regarding characters, though, is found in Mikey. Clearly autism is something that the trio of writers, which include director Greg McLean (2005’s WOLF CREEK and its 2013 sequel), know little about and don’t take terribly serious, as they would prefer to use it as fodder for the supernatural.
THE DARKNESS (hey, great title!) is so obvious and stale that nearly every major scene seems to have lifted from another source. (The main victim here is probably POLTERGEIST—maybe McLean wasn’t aware it was remade just last year?) It is a lazy and thin movie that relies on cheap tactics and preexisting ideas to get its scares, all of which fail.
So, too, does the acting. Bacon would be expected to be the catch here, but he doesn’t seem all that interested in being there (he gave a more compelling turn as Jack Burrell). Beyond that, Fry overacts every chance she gets and the teenage Mazouz appears to have only been permitted to stare at walls. Fortunately for him, those walls likely had more dimension than THE DARKNESS.
Video: 2.40:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. Details are fine but often get lost in the more darkly lit sequences, which tend to swallow the sets and actors.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Spanish DTS 5.1; French DTS 5.1. Subtitles in English, Spanish and French. Dialogue is clean but it’s the sound effects and music cues that prove most effective.
Deleted Scenes (9:49): There are nine here, which can be viewed separately or as a whole. They are: “Stephanie and Friends Walking Home,” “Bronny and Peter – Real Estate,” “Peter Drives Up,” “Car Park Scare,” “Simon Jokes About Sammy,” “Peter in the Elevator,” “Driving to the Hospital,” “Police Visit from Noise Complaint” and “Peter and Bronny Outside the Pharmacy.”
Alternate Ending (9:01)