13 May 2016 | MisterWhiplash
where's the actual BAND The Darkness when you need 'em?
This is simply a lame and lazy movie. It has the smallest seeds of potential I think in the aspect of the child with autism. There could be something with a horror movie that uses a child who has this disorder and has some sort of psychic or supernatural connections to things, it could make for a good premise for a movie. This isn't it, however. The Darkness is generic all the way down to its title - can you imagine the faces lit up when the actors (who did get paid anyway so whatever) are told they'll be in a new horror movie produced by Jason Blum (whatever you think of Blumhouse they made Whiplash so points there for that), and then comes a script called 'The Darkness' and those faces fall a little - and its laziness comes largely in execution.
These aren't all necessarily bad actors really; Kevin Bacon, Radha Mitchell, even Paul Reiser I've seen do excellent work in major films for major artists. Here, it's slumming in a story that feels like its grafted plot points and character beats from a Lifetime movie; the mother/wife who's an alcoholic; the philandering husband/father who can't keep it in his pants (until he decides to not to that so much due to the crazy s*** at home); the daughter who has bulimia since, you know, she has to be given something to do. And of course the son who is autistic (though we don't see that at the start of the movie, set at the Grand Canyon where he happens to plop into a hole and find some spooky rocks, woo rocks, scary), and the filmmakers use the autism more to keep things in the first half suspicious.
So in other words, it's not taking autism really seriously aside from it being a crutch to hold on to: there's some weird things going on in the house like (gasp) hand-prints and prints on a mirror during a shower, well you can blame it on the autistic kid Mikey, right? The kid is directed to be pretty one dimensional, and there's a few moments that are just laughably poor. And it all leads up to a conclusion that we've seen a thousand times with these possessed-house movies - and for some reason even though I believe the Anasazi are Native American in heritage the "healers" are Mexican because maybe they couldn't afford to hire Native American actors (and having actors speaking Spanish makes things more, uh, 'authentic' or scary).
This is weak by way of building up family drama (also it feels confused as if on the one hand the family had these problems before this phantom menace so to speak arrived, but on the other hand it's also meant to be like the ghosts make them more effed up, which is it) and by the numbers (plus logic stuff, simple things, like is the movie so cheap that they couldn't show the boy at a school - the actor playing him doesn't look too young to be in school as autistic kids *do* attend), and yet its laziness causes it to be borderline offensive. Could you at least TRY to build real suspense? Even jump scares, the more tired of the crutches of horror filmmakers today, at least give us something to do in a theater if only by motor-reaction or something. The jump scares here are non-existent to bare-bones (ooh, the son's behind her, whoops), and by the climax it's ultimately bloodless too with a PG-13 rating so, uh, kids can sit bored too? This is a movie made at the prestigious school for hacks, The University of Don't-Give-a-F***ery, and if you don't care then I don't, either. Kevin Bacon can do better.