Written by: Matt Molgaard
Directed by: Greg McLean
Cast: Kevin Bacon, Radha Mitchell
It pains me to write this review. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Kevin Bacon is one of my personal favorites – and not just of the last few decades, we’re talking all-time favorite, up there with Bill Murray, Clint Eastwood, Woody Harrelson, Lon Chaney Jr. and Clu Gulager. And Greg McLean is an awesome filmmaker who’s given us one of the most memorable screen villains in recent years: Mick Taylor, of the Wolf Creek franchise.
I thought this film was guaranteed to succeed. I truly did.
It fell very, very short of expectations.
The story, in a nutshell sees a traveling family return with a few old ancient rocks, taken from soil of evil and despair. In the days and weeks to follow, the family finds themselves haunted by dark forces. Dark forces who gradually ratchet up their sinister acts. A “specialist” is brought in and a final showdown is had between the living and the un-living.
Sounds pretty basic, right?
It gets worse, as the entire story is a simplistic connect the dot piece. Each moment in which something intriguing happens, we know it’s going to lead somewhere, and we know exactly where that is. This is the first film in a long time in which I was able to accurately predict the entire story within 20 minutes. And I called each “significant” moment just seconds before it occurred. It was so familiar I could have easily written the story myself in the past.
From McLean, who also helps write, I was utterly flabbergasted. The film feels thrown together. It doesn’t feel nurtured in the slightest, and it refuses to play it any way that isn’t safe. I like a little risk in my movie, and The Darkness offers none whatsoever. When the credits rolled, I was a depressed gent.
Let me backtrack briefly and comment on Kevin Bacon and his performance. Technically speaking, Bacon does his job and does it well. But because of the screenwriting, and the constant conflicting actions on the character’s part, it’s impossible to like the guy. We’re clearly led to believe he’s some form of chronic cheater, yet when a gorgeous new assistant is hired, he easily fends off the call of physical unity. It’s almost as though his friendly demeanor is always mistaken for the charm applied by the typical womanizer. It’s weird, and it leaves viewers in a state of limbo, uncertain of whether we care about the man or not.
I respected the fact that the film isn’t anchored by heavy CGI. That was a great touch, and there were a few moments that did indeed make for a brief creep-out, but overall, The Darkness is just too predictable, its characters too confused to assume any reliable habits or steady mannerisms. And their daughter… good lord… all I can say is if my teen behaved as this one does, I’d likely have spent plenty of time in the clink by now. She’s not only staggeringly annoying and moody, she’s physically abusive toward her mother. Not. Likable. At. All!
The Darkness will be enjoyed by some, but heavily picked apart by those who tend to study film as they view it. It’s certainly not the masterpiece I’d hoped for.