Regina (Anna Paquin) and her family – mother Maria (Lena Olin), father Mark (Iain Glen) and her little brother Paul (Stephen Enquist) – have just moved to Spain. Her father used to grow up there, but left the country when he was a child. His father Albert (Giancarlo Giannini) is still there, though, and looking forward to his grandchildren. But there is something about the rather remote house they’re living that doesn’t seem quite right. And it doesn’t take long until mysterious things start happening.
Darkness has its moments, but it also has an insistent and incessant sound design that annoyed the hell our of me and surprisingly weak performances by its cast.
The film has its atmospheric, scary moments. The children in the house, for example, would have been really creepy – if the sound design hadn’t tried to force it down our throats by being way too loud and way too on the nose. It was like wandering through an effective haunted house with a guy who follows you around, going “ooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhh are you scared yet? OOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHH” all the time. Even if that guy is pretty cool to hang out with normally and even if the haunted house is well-made, it will totally ruin everything.
But sound isn’t the only problem the film has. The Spanish setting seems forced, making Regina’s out of nowhere Spanish boyfriend Carlos (Fele Martinez) rather inexplicable, too. That Regina is the only one who is suspicious, despite the overwhelming evidence that something was wrong, seemed also far-fetched.
The final twist was predictable, but not a bad idea – just extremely weak in the execution. [SPOILER] So, Regina knows that she is the one supposed to kill her father to complete the ritual, and nevertheless she goes for the tracheotomy (oh, tracheotomy, overused cinematic device of drama), while her mother continues what she did the entire film: being good for nothing. [/SPOILER] That is just poor thinking. And incredibly contrived to boot.
I am also rather disappointed by the cast, though their weakness might not be entirely unrelated to the fact that the director/writers are not English Native speakers. That stuff is harder to do when it’s not in your own language.
Despite all that, every once in a while the film this could have been shimmers through. And for those moments, it is almost worth it.