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With: Kevin Bacon, Radha Mitchell, Lucy Fry, David Mazouz, Ming-Na Wen, Paul Reiser
Written by: Greg McLean, Shane Krause, Shayne Armstrong
Directed by: Greg McLean
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements, some disturbing violence, brief sensuality and language
Running Time: 92
Date: 05/13/2016

The Darkness (2016)

2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Oddly, this well-cast horror movie (not to be confused with the 2004 horror movie Darkness) is more interesting for its family drama than for its scares. It might almost be worth seeing, if not for the nonsensical story, jump-scares, and other lazy stuff. Kevin Bacon and Radha Mitchell lead an able cast, filling out likably human characters, flawed but not stupid, and trying hard to fix things. The family's confrontations, over drinking, infidelity, bulimia, and autism, are much more engaging than the strangely flat ghost story.

During a camping trip with family friends, autistic boy Mike (David Mazouz) falls into a strange chamber and finds five stones, carved with images of a buffalo, snake, wolf, coyote, and crow. Back home, with his mom, Bronny (Mitchell), dad Peter (Bacon), and older sister Stephanie (Lucy Fry), strange things begin happening. Mike begins talking to an "imaginary friend," Jenny. Locked doors suddenly open, and a neighbor's dog barks incessantly. As the malevolent forces become stronger, and the family seems to be falling apart at the seams, the time comes to call in an expert (Alma Martinez) to help cleanse the house. But whatever evil Mike has awakened seems to have other plans.

Directed by Greg McLean (known in horror fan circles for Wolf Creek; I'm not a fan), The Darkness often feels as things were left out, or simply never added. It addresses the existence of other cultures, American Indian ghosts, a Latina ghost hunter, and an Asian woman who believes in her, but only as surface dressing. Eventually, it's never clear — no one seems to have decided — what the story actually is, who these ghosts are, or what will make them go away. They can't even manage anything other than make loud noises to make us jump.

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