Jaume Balaguero's "Darkness" is yet another horror picture in which a typical-appearing family, seeking peace and tranquility in the countryside, moves into the gloomiest, most remote old house it can find, and then, when things start going bump in the night and worse, it doesn't move out no matter what.
An English-language production made in Spain with an international cast, this Dimension presentation is trite and flat, despite the efforts of such well-known actors as Anna Paquin, Lena Olin and Giancarlo Giannini.
Dimension's promotional tag for "Darkness" is: "Some secrets should never come to light." Well, some movies should never come to light, either, and "Darkness," bearing a 2002 copyright, might well have been better left on the shelf instead of being quietly released Christmas Day with no advance screenings.
Maria (Olin) and Mark (Iain Glen) and their children, Regina (Paquin) and Paul (Stephan Enquist), have settled into a large turn-of-the-last-century house in a vaguely American Colonial Revival style -- not the kind of structure one would expect to find about 10 miles from Barcelona.
Mark was born in Spain, but when he was a child, his mother took him to America after divorcing his father, Albert (Giannini), a doctor attached to a Barcelona hospital where Maria finds work as a nurse. Apparently, the family has left the U.S. seeking quieter surroundings for Mark, who has suffered from Huntington's disease but is apparently in remission. The family has barely moved in when electrical outages become daily occurrences for which an electrician can offer no explanation.
Then Mark becomes flooded with terrifying childhood memories, and Paul is plagued by the menacing ghosts of children about his age. Naturally, the house turns out to hold terrifying secrets of an unspeakable evil. Things get worse for the family, but so does the picture, which is too mechanical to be either persuasive or scary.
As Mark commences to crumble and Maria goes into seeming indifference or denial, Regina tries to hold the family together, especially protecting her little brother, Paul, and digging into the history and mystery of the sinister house with the help of her new boyfriend, Carlos (Fele Martinez).
Not helping matters is that, after putting audiences through the most routine of thrills and chills, which no amount of dynamic editing can enliven, the relentlessly murky "Darkness" opts for a limp, open ending.
A Dimension Films release of a Filmax International presentation of a Julio Fernandez/Brian Yuzna production for Fantastic Factory. Director: Jaume Balaguero. Producer: Fernandez, Yuzna. Executive producers: Julio Fernandez, Carlos Fernandez. Screenplay by Balaguero, Fernando de Felipe. Cinematographer Xavi Gimenez. Editor Luis de la Madrid. Music Carles Cases. Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes. MPAA rating: PG-13 for disturbing images, intense terror sequences, thematic elements and language.
Anna Paquin - Regina
Lena Olin - Maria
Iain Glen - Mark
Giancarlo Giannini - Albert
Fele Martinez - Carlos