The Darkness Blu-ray Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Blu-ray released by Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Written and directed by Greg McLean
2016, 93 minutes, Rated PG-13
Blu-ray released on September 6th, 2016
Kevin Bacon as Peter Taylor
Radha Mitchell as Bronny Taylor
David Mazouz as Michael Taylor
Lucy Fry as Stephanie Taylor
Matt Walsh as Gary Carter
Jennifer Morrison as Joy Carter
Parker Mack as Andrew Carter
Paul Reiser as Simon Richards
Ming-Na Wen as Wendy
Before I plopped The Darkness into my Blu-ray player, I was surprised I had not heard more about it. On the surface, it has many great things going for it: it was produced by Jason Blum (among others), written and directed by Greg McLean (Wolf Creek), stars Kevin Bacon (who always delivers as the Every Man), and delves into the relatively untapped wealth of Native American horror. I questioned why in the heck this film eluded me. Once I watched it, it's painfully obvious why this one slipped completely under the radar. Oy.
Quick, name a horror movie that has a Native American mythology behind it! Honestly, I can't think of any off the top of my head. I mean, sure, The X-Files had some great episodes centering on the Anasazi but that's all I got without researching. The Darkness also focuses on the Anasazi people. Peter (Kevin Bacon, The Following) and his family are vacationing in the Southwest when his son, Michael, falls into a cave and discovers some rocks. He takes the stones home and weird stuff starts happening. That's all you really need to know.
The Darkness is completely frustrating to watch. Like I said, it has a great pedigree of players behind it, but unfortunately, that's all it has. The film has its fair share of issues, but it all starts with its script. To say that it's exposition heavy would be an understatement, and to call it lazy is being nice. Everything is explained, sometimes twice in case you missed it the first time. For example, very early on in the movie, right before Michael (David Mazouz) finds the haunted or possessed (or whatever) stones, his sister Stephanie (Lucy Fry) explains to a family friend that he (Michael) is not your average kid...he's doesn't get scared like normal kids do. Later on in the movie, when Peter is looking for a solution to their problems, a documentary explains exactly what those stones represent, and to break the curse (or whatever), they have to be returned to where they were found by someone who is not scared. You see where this is going.
Unfortunately, there are a variety of scenes like this and, even worse, dialogue that is shoehorned in to explain something that maybe should have been told to the viewer 30 minutes prior. Apparently, there's something wrong with Michael. I assume it's autism, but I don't think it's ever mentioned out loud and I certainly can't be assed to watch the movie again to verify. Anyway, Michael's behavior is getting worse. How do we know this? We're told not shown in a few different scenes by a few different family members. Oh, and at some point Peter had an affair on his wife Bronny (Radha Mitchell). This little tidbit seemingly comes out of nowhere and its only purpose is to show that the family is having more problems than just the spirits that are trying to kill them or take their son (or whatever). The point is, should you decide to invest your time, don't expect anything well written.
If the script weren't bad enough, the majority of the frights you'll find in The Darkness are of the hacky jump-scare/LOUD NOISE varitey. Admittedly, I didn't like McLean's first offering, Wolf Creek, the first time around, but it grew on me with subsequent viewings, and none of the subtlety found in that film is here. Maybe he left it in Australia.
Don't get me wrong, there are a few moments in The Darkness that show what could have been, and I'll also give it points for attempting to bring something clearly underutilized in the horror genre with the Native American mythology. But unless you like your horror filled with clichés and tropes, it's best to avoid The Darkness.
Video and Audio:
Presented in 2.40:1, I have no complaints about The Darkness' video, as it looks as great as you'd expect from a movie filmed last year.
The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 gives your subwoofer a workout at times, and utilizes your surrounds as a horror film should.
English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles are available for those in need.
- Alternate Ending
- Deleted Scenes
Nobody ever makes me in charge of anything because I can't be trusted with nice things, but if I had been asked what ending to use for The Darkness, it would have been the alternate ending presented here. It is both amazing and hilarious, and might have bumped the rating on this review another half star if they had used it.
The deleted scenes would not have added much to the film had they not been cut, but one does at least lightly touch on why Stephanie binges and purge, even though it really brings nothing to the table as far as the movie is concerned.