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2.6 out of 5 stars24
2.6 out of 5 stars
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 December 2013
We have a saying in the UK about the food product Marmite, that it's one of those foods that you either love or hate. Jaume Balagueró's Darkness is one such Marmite Movie. You will get it and find it intriguing, or you will be like me, wanting to stick your head in the microwave until death comes mercifully.

Plot finds an American family moving into a Spanish country house only to find it haunted by the ghosts of evil deeds past.

Starring Anna Paquin, Lena Olin, Iain Glen, Giancarlo Giannini and Stephan Enquist, it's a film that's as muddled as it is silly. Cast work hard to make the flimsy material work, but the repetitiveness and unadventurous formula of the whole thing hamstrings their efforts. Balagueró is let loose with his digital editing device and tries desperately to induce shocks, but it all looks so fake and lazy. While the script produces dialogue that is wholly unbelievable and the ending thinks it's clever, but really it's a very unsatisfactory and cheap pay off.

3 jars of Marmite out of 10.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is a by the numbers haunted house tale.
Forty years ago, seven young children went missing from a secluded country house. One managed to escape, but couldn't remember enough about the captor or captors to help the authorities.
Forty years later, a fifty-something married couple move into the property, along with their two kids, Paul, who's aged about eight, and Regina, who's aged in her mid teens. The building is run down and ramshackle, but not impressively foreboding like the houses in The Amityville Horror or Psycho.
Before long, all the usual haunted house cliches start - electric lights on the blink, inexplicable whispered voices, moving inanimate objects, and so on and so forth. The father starts to behave in a Jekyll and Hyde fashion, reminiscent of Jack Nicholson in The Shining, and the family soon find themselves the target of some unexpected, other worldly residents of their new home...
This is certainly not a bad spook tale. However, it's a movie which values style over substance. It's elegantly shot, and competently acted, but it's over reliant on artificial plot devices like flashbacks, which are very flashily filmed, but detract from the progression of the movie. A ghost story is supposed to give you the creeps, but this film is a relatively tame 15 certificate. The pace is sluggish, and there wasn't a single moment to make my skin shiver. A horror flick which doesn't chill you to the bone is like a champagne without any bubbles. All in all, this is a 2.5 star film.
If you want to watch a really good spook story, try The Conjuring, The Devil's Backbone or The Orphanage The Conjuring [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free], The Devil's Backbone - Special Edition [Blu-ray]Orphanage [Blu-ray].
If you're struggling to find a masterful horror story, try American Mary, Bedevilled, The Chaser, Dead Girl, Midnight Meat Train, Venom (not the one about a killer snake, the other one!), or Wolf Creek 2 - all of which are a real treat for horror fans - American Mary [Blu-ray] [2012] [Region Free], Bedevilled [Blu-ray], The Chaser [DVD], Dead Girl [DVD] [2006], Midnight Meat Train [Blu-ray], Venom [DVD], Wolf Creek 2 [Blu-ray].
Thank you for taking the time to read this review.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 September 2013
The movie is slow to develop. This normally is not bad because during this time most scripts build character. This movie never builds character, which is its major downfall. Anna Paquin is the main character as the daughter Regina, yet we never get to know her. She is a moody teen who can swim. He has a bad feeling about the house, but it is displayed so poorly. The movie starts to get exciting about half way through. If you can make it until Dad is slicing fruit and is angry, congratulations the movie is about to start. At this point the dull movie begins to get clever. The images of dark figures flashing in the darkness and then not being there is a simple but effective scary effect.

An American family moves to Spain. It is the part of Spain where everyone speaks English and all the radio stations broadcast in English. The house is "haunted" and weird things happen when it gets dark. The darkness is evil and has intellect. The problem with the plot twists and scary images is that we really don't care about the family because they never developed them.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Speaking as a veteran of many horror films, I find myself unable to comprehend the low ratings this film receives. My only regret about watching Darkness is the fact that I saw the rated rather than the unrated version. The film is a little less than perfect, but it is, without question, one of the creepiest films I've ever seen. In my opinion, Jaume Balaquero is the most exciting horror director working today. Like The Nameless, Darkness is a visual masterpiece of cinematography - although Balaquero probably tried a little bit too hard with this film. All of the random visuals are a little overdone, the movie drags a little longer than it should have for maximum effect, and the ending is - most unfortunately - far too ambiguous, but Balaquero knows horror - how to approach it and how to present it.
It's amazing how effective the haunted house motif still remains - as long as it's done right, incredible things are possible. Apart from the ending, this film is done absolutely right. The house in question here is inherently evil and most definitely haunted - although, as in real life, the greatest dangers to the innocent are men with evil in their hearts. Forty years ago, six children disappeared, but one escaped - although he could not remember enough to help the cops catch the evildoers. Now, forty years later, a family has moved into the gloomy house where the crimes took place - but only the children sense the danger lurking there. Young Paul retreats within himself and begins showing unexplained bruises around his neck, while teenaged daughter Regina (Anna Paquin) picks up on the evil presence and tries to protect her brother; the parents are less than useless. Mark, the dad, has some kind of seizure and then begins changing in ways that beg for a straightjacket, and all the while the mom just tells everyone not to worry. Regina and her boyfriend do some investigating and discover the true history of the house, its evil design and ritualistic intent, but their search takes Regina places she would never have dreamed of going. It's all pretty much up to her, though, as her parents won't listen to her and poor Paul is helplessly haunted by the ghosts of several evil children. Darkness comes with a nice little bundle of surprises; not only did the story take a couple of turns I didn't foresee, it had me guessing about other possible surprises.
The cinematography of this film is brilliant and the true secret of its palpable creepiness. You'll be looking at a dark room and then a lightning strike will silhouette these creepy children just standing there; you've got shadows that move just outside the peripheral vision of characters; and periodic sets of random, disturbing images also contribute greatly to the overall effect. These latter scenes are used too often in the latter half of the film, but it's a minor quibble at best. The only thing wrong with the movie is the ending, which is just too ambiguous to satisfy anyone. Darkness does not have a five-star story, but it's just so incredibly creepy that I cannot give it less than five stars overall. Anna Paquin proves more than capable of carrying the film single-handedly whenever she needs to. In my opinion, Darkness ranks right up there among the creepiest horror films made in the last two decades - now I just have to get my hands on the unrated version.
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on 7 February 2013
I agree we many of the negative reviews of 'Darkness' here but didn't find it all that bad...honest!

Strangely, despite it all being very cliched, the first hour of the film kept my interest gripped - like willing a horse to win a race I was thinking 'just keep going and you'll be fine' - problem is the plot and realism falls apart pretty abruptly and ends up tailing off into a very mediocre, cheesy and slightly confusing mess.

This makes me less willing to accept the earlier architypes - think Amityville with a bit of The Shining and The Orphanage (only from a large rural house in Spain perspective) thrown in and you pretty much know the score.

The positives, and there are plenty, are that the 'horror' itself is well crafted with the tension levels high and the scares a plenty. Also, the characterisation is strong (in that yes, I did actually care for their plight) and to be honest the acting, production etc are good too.

At the hour mark, as mentioned before, the problems start - the Grandfather figure becomes a little laughble, the well measured scares become rushed and over the top and the very end scene is a little too predictable to be true. It amazes me how so many films can't end themselves properly!

Think of 'Darkness' as being given a birthday cake, taking your first bite and then dropping the rest on the floor. Basically, for all the excitement and build-up all you're left with is a mess to clear up!

All things equal, it's 3 stars from me - just!
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on 13 September 2012
I just love this movie and cannot the generally bad reviews it has been getting since its release.
It's not the best horror movie ever made, no, but it is very well directed and the photography is phenomenal. (And of course it stars Anna Paquin, one of my fave actresses)
I would like to see The Nameless, the director's take on Ramsey Campbell's novel, but I cannot find it anywhere. I love Campbell and this movie shares some characteristics with him - i.e. proper subliminal scares which are not shoved into your face but creeps around in the shadows and corners.
It's sort of a quiet horror movie, not an all-out shrieker, and I actually loved the ending. Yes, it is ambigious, which is what I liked, but also very creepy. Some of the images when Anna and the boy try to leave the house are ultra-scary. And Lena Olin is brilliant (isn't she always, did anyone see Romeo is Bleeding?)
I also loved the final shot when they drive into the tunnel....back into the darkness.
This movie needs more love.
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on 5 January 2012
Watched this with a friend who I'm trying to persuade to like scary films - we were both very spooked. This film has some great unexpected twists, and the ending is brilliant. This kind of horror is way more interesting than the really gory stuff - the way it plays tricks on you is amazing.
If you like your scary movies to have an interesting plot, and real characters that develop, I definitely recommend this film. Also, it arrived very quickly - used cheap delivery with 'wantitcheaper', didn't think it would arrive before xmas (it said it wouldn't), but it arrived in 2 days.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 17 August 2006
Not sure if I was watching a different film, but I thought this film was excellent - thought it was really different, it actually gave me bad dreams!!

I also though the ending was really original although some people sat behind us in the cinema were obviously less than impressed!

Very spooky - I will admit though I do have a bit of a problem with an overative imagination and the dark!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 31 January 2007
I really enjoyed this film as unlike most horror these days, it doesn't rely on cheap thrills and jumpy moments, and it also doesn't feel the need to explain itself either. Which is a VERY GOOD THING.

Too many films these days feel the need to explain why something is happening in horror, when in fact the unknown is way more scary. Event Horizon is another good example of not explaining they why's of everything.

I found this a genuinely creepy film, but if you enjoy cheap thrills and 'Scream-esque' tat, then you, like so many others, won't really enjoy it or like it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 2 November 2010
I must stop falling victim viewer to this modern abhorration of adult-orientated 'thinker horrors'-i.e non-horrors doing criminal impersonations. Ever since 'Sixth Sense' pervaded this movement, the days of unique spectral horrors-from 'Poltergeist' to even 'The Frighteners' where once-human undead or evil spirit-bound creatures laid waste to your life, home and viewers nerves: these days they just get on them big time, the only way this 'Darkness' could be a barely glinting example of anything. The details are enough to induce full-blown torpor-lonely old mansion relcoation, troubled teenage girl with abusive father, conducive mother, who may just be having visions of once-living kids to scare her obligatory younger siblings and annoy her slowly-dawning parents. This flaky, tense-free, deathlessly directed dullathon TV movie (THIS gets into cinemas while masterpieces like the same year's 'Dagon' doesn't?!) treads backward-slow the wasted old rooms of its script-free home. Unlike the 'Amityville' story of which it is trying for, there is no cohesive link pulling these non-existent memeory-kids of the past to the utterly unextroadinary family living their now.

Smart young movie veteran and 'True Blood' star Anna Paquin's delightfully varied CV will not suffer from this tragically bloodless no-hoper of a drama-free drama with laughable ghostly aspirations, and she's redeemed herself by appearing in the ghoulishly delightful 'Trick'R Treat'the perfect Halloween horror, done five years after this trash. Catch her in that instead, before she threatens to derail herself completely with the tediously expected 'Scream 4'.

Shooting this in Europe also won't inject this with any of the dozen ingredients needed to spark a horror or point, as this isn't one and has none, not least cos it's still another churn-out from the now hugely dilapidated aridity of Hollywood Horror. Even this move was a copied one-'The Others'-while touted as a US movie, was shot in Spain and has a Spanish director. Forget Darkness, think blackout!
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