Thursday, May 26, 2016

Movie Review #428: "The Darkness" (2016)

Movie"The Darkness"
Director: Greg McLean
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 32 minutes
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While on a family camping trip near the Grand Canyon, a young autistic boy named Michael (David Mazouz) stumbles upon a hidden cave. There, he finds five stones with Native American carvings etched on them. He removes the stones from their altar and brings them home, unwittingly freeing some ancient demons who begin tormenting his family.

"The Darkness"? More like "The Dumbness."

This horror/thriller is directed and at least partially written by Greg McLean. One might assume that, even with a PG-13 rating, a good script might facilitate a decent viewing experience. Let us tell you, folks, "The Darkness" falls apart after 5 short minutes with its horribly constructed story, its terribly written script, and its stupidly mundane plot. It stars Kevin Bacon as an architect named Peter Taylor, and Radha Mitchell as his wife Bronny. This is a couple who has clearly had a lot of troubles recently, judging by the fact that they cannot go one conversation without fighting. They have two children: an older daughter name Stephanie, played by Lucy Fry, and a younger son named Michael, played by David Mazouz, who is autistic and appears to be cared for by Bronny quite intensively while Peter is constantly at work. Unfortunately, all of these characters, including Michael, are unlikable from the start, making us not give a flying you-know-what about them over the course of this "horror." Peter has cheated on his wife in the past, and even when he says he's sorry, he doesn't sound like he means it. Many of their problems as a couple look like they stem from this event. Bronny is an alcoholic. It appears as though she is off the sauce, but with all she's going through, well, who wouldn't take a swig every now and then? Lucy is bulimic. She has posters of stick-thin models plastered all over her walls and stares at them as she pukes into containers that she puts under her bed. For some reason, even in the very first scene she's on the screen, Lucy is a raging bitch, incessantly screeching at the top of her lungs at her mother, even getting into a physical altercation with her at one point. Michael is poorly portrayed. Michael's autism is used pretty heavily in the script as a plot device to explain and excuse his "bizarre" behavior, as well as later in a predictable resolution we called within 10 seconds of its disclosure.

Beyond its awful characters, "The Darkness" is a poorly constructed film from every possible standpoint. The editing and narrative seem choppy. Characters are introduced for little to no reason and disappear instantly, never to be mentioned again. Scenes bounce from one place to the next with what feels like plot holes, but we are a more willing to bet its problems come from its incapable, inexperienced writer and director. This film is as formulaic as it gets. We often talk about the phrases "horror movie cliches" and "horror movie 101." These are the contrived, trite instances you see in almost every horror movie, good and bad: jump scares, loud noises, animals seeing things before humans do, shadows lurking in the darkness, lights flickering, hand prints appearing, doors opening randomly, etc. All of these, and some we haven't even named, happen in this movie's 92 minute run time over and over and over in a nauseatingly bad way. The catalyst for everything that happens here stems from Michael disturbing an ancient Native American ruin. Instead of explaining what's wrong and how to remove this entity, our characters simply find videos online that describe the problems they're having in perfect detail, and share them with one another in multiple scenes of exposition. Luckily, Peter's boss and his wife have the phone number to a spiritual cleanser who can effectively solve their problem! WOW!! How convenient!! It's all so expected and much too neat. This movie doesn't take any chances, or do anything new, or create anything remotely worth watching.

Beyond all these contrivances and unlikable characters, the biggest flaw of "The Darkness" is how utterly boring it is. There is not one moment, not one single scene that captured our attention, nothing to gain our interest in this film. It simultaneously tells a monotonous story and fails to build tension with it, cheapening the entire thing with inadequate, flat jump scares that do not elicit the slightest reaction when the volume is cranked up to 11. We were seriously more scared during "The Brave Little Toaster." Not even Kevin Bacon can do anything to elevate this crapfest beyond the banal drudgery it is.

My Rating: 1/10
BigJ's Rating: 1/10
IMDB's Rating: 4.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 5%
Do we recommend this movie: AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

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