[Screen It]

"THE DARKNESS"
(2016) (Kevin Bacon, Radha Mitchell) (PG-13)


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QUICK TAKE:
Horror: Following their Grand Canyon vacation, a family begins to believe they brought something supernatural back with them.
PLOT:
Despite having seemingly spent an idyllic vacation with friends touring the Grand Canyon and surrounding environs, the marriage and family life of Peter (KEVIN BACON) and Bronny Taylor (RADHA MITCHELL) is anything but perfect. For starters, he spends too much time at work for his boss, Simon (PAUL REISER), and Bronny still hasn't completely forgiven him for a past affair. Their teenage daughter, Stephanie (LUCY FRY), is tormenting them with adolescent mood swings while hiding her bulimia from them, while her younger brother Michael's (DAVID MAZOUZ) autism proves challenging for all of them.

Unbeknownst to them and during that recent vacation, Michael ended up falling into a cave and came across a series of stones once used by the Anasazi Indians to keep demonic spirits at bay. Now back in the family's suburban home, they start causing creepy things to happen, many of which are initially attributed to Michael and his condition. But when they escalate and things progressively get spookier, the parents eventually take the advice of Simon's wife, Wendy (MING-NA WEN), and bring in Native American healer Teresa (ALMA MARTINEZ) and her young adult granddaughter, Gloria (ILZA ROSARIO), in hopes that they can rid them of the spirits before it's too late and the family rips itself apart.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
Our reviewing policy for films that aren't shown in advance to critics is that we'll only provide a paragraph or two about the film's artistic merits or, more accurately, lack thereof. After all, life is too short to spend any more effort than that on a movie that even the releasing studio knows isn't any good (which is why they hid it from reviewers before its release).

Go to just about any place in the U.S. and you'll be able to find a store or stand that will sell you a souvenir related to that locale. Beyond t-shirts, hats and such, I'm not sure people really want to display their glassware, placemats and such that are adorned with tacky graphics naming the place, but I'm guessing such giftware is a huge business.

Of course, sometimes people bring home things they shouldn't, usually in the form of items not for sale, both manmade and natural. That's the jumping-off point for "The Darkness," another in a long line of derivative horror flicks where telegraphed jump scenes outweigh true frights, evil takes its sweet old time manifesting itself to its full extent, families are too dumb to get out of Dodge early, and some sort of spiritual figure arrives to clean up the mess.

Here, an autistic boy (David Mazouz) finds some old Native American stones after falling into a cave-meets-long lost ceremonial "keep the spirits at bay" room. After bringing them home, his older, moody and bulimic sister (Lucy Fry) and marital discord suffering parents (Kevin Bacon and Radha Mitchell) start experiencing things that go bump, creak and such in the night. All of which leads to slow, pensive walking and sudden startles. And boredom and disbelief on our part . I mean really, what could have convinced Bacon and Mitchell to sign up for this boring mess? To quote Dana Carvey's Church Lady, "Could it be...Satan?"

By the time things escalate to the point that the "Poltergeist" type portal has opened and the boy has entered that with the demonic figures, you'll likely wish everyone else would join him so the portal could close and the end credits could roll. "The Darkness" never sees the light of being a good or even just moderately scary horror film and thus rates as only a 3 out of 10.




Reviewed May 12, 2016 / Posted May 13, 2016


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