No, not a biopic of neo-glam British rock band who were famous for almost 15 minutes about twelve years ago with “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” (What, no one else remember them?). But that at least might have brought some bigger interest than the movie we got, a movie so bored and perfunctory that it might accidentally call out someone else’s name while you’re watching it.
Kevin Bacon plays – well, he plays Kevin Bacon, so I’m not gonna look up his name. He’s some sort of businessman with a history of adultery and cutting loose, footloose (yes, expect jokes like that through the course of the review). His wife (Radha Mitchell) drinks, his daughter (Lucy Fry) is bulimic, and his son Michael (David Mazouz) is autistic. While camping out in the Grand Canyon, Michael stumbles into an ancient Indian burial ground and takes five stones, secretly carting them back home. The stones have the power to invoke Horror Tropes.
And they do. We’ve got the neighbour’s dog barking incessantly at Kevin Bacon’s family (possibly because Bacon now looks like William DaFoe following chemotherapy), there’s noises in the attic, Michael has an imaginary friend who says cryptic s**t, animals like snakes, coyotes and stuff start appearing in rooms, the daughter is vomiting (no wait, that’s just a plot point that has no bearing on the movie, it’s just time filler and an indulgence for those fetishists who get off seeing girls sticking their fingers down their throats and keeping Tupperware bowls full of vomit under their beds.
(No, but seriously, Kevin Bacon looks like a scrotum left in the sun too long)
Anyway, things escalate, Wife does some research and automatically comes to the conclusion that the house is infested with evil Indian spirits (Google searches have gotten smarter) that were attracted to Michael’s autism, and that this is all leading up to some portals being opened to another world leading to some Apocalypse called The Darkness. Some Native American mystics are brought in, moving us into the most boring POLTERGEIST ripoff imaginable.
THE DARKNESS has all the predictability of a set of Ikea instructions. Now, you can’t expect much in the way of originality in the horror genre these days, but the movie doesn’t really push the envelope. The whole notion of the White Man literally appropriating Native American culture and leading to their downfall is never touched on, presumably because that might raise this above the required shallow level of most Blumhouse Production films. There’s one creepy scene where the daughter is sitting up in bed, as invisible hands covered in soot start leaving handprints on her bedclothes, her body, her face… but the rest is shot cleanly, brightly, and with all the grindhouse flair of an episode of GOOSEBUMPS.
In researching this, I found a strange parallel between Australian director Greg McLean and veteran horror director Tobe Hooper. McLean got started with WOLF CREEK, a movie that’s not a million miles away in story and tone from Hooper’s TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. He went on to do a giant crocodile movie called ROGUE, which was also the plot of Hooper’s EATEN ALIVE. McLean reluctantly went back to his debut with a sequel to WOLF CREEK, just like Hooper did with his baby. Now we’ve got THE DARKNESS, a “homage” to POLTERGEIST.
If someone can find wherever Tobe Hooper has sequestered himself (seriously, has anyone checked in on him lately? I worry about him), maybe they should warn him about this Single White Female thing going on with this Aussie guy.
Where was I? Oh yeah, the movie. THE DARKNESS is available here and there. But it’s cheaper and more satisfying to just turn off your lights.
Director: Greg McLean
Plot: 2 out of 5 stars
Gore: 1 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Deggsy