This week Steve Johnson takes a look at Universal’s release of “The Darkness.” This fantastic supernatural horror film stars Kevin Bacon and was produced by the team that brought us “The Purge” and “Insidious.”
Here’s a quick synopsis before we enter the darkness:
From the producers of “The Purge” and “Insidious,” comes this terrifying supernatural thriller starring Kevin Bacon (“Black Mass,” “X-Men: First Class”) and Radha Mitchell (“London Has Fallen,” “Silent Hill”). When their young son (David Mazouz, TV’s “Gotham”) brings home five mystical stones he found on their family’s camping trip to the Grand Canyon, Peter (Bacon) and Bronny (Mitchell) notice strange things happening in their house. Having awakened dark forces bound to the rocks, the family fights for survival as malicious demons feed off their fears and threaten to destroy them.
REVIEW: Oh man! It’s finally September! You know what that means, right? We are right around the corner from Halloween! Unlike previous years, I am trying to ease into the season. It’s hard, but I’m doing my best. I imagine a week from now I’ll have the decorations up and will be downing pumpkin beer like it’s water. Anyway, let’s get down to the real business at hand. I fancy myself a slasher or creature feature fan but, lately, I have taken a turn toward the supernatural side of things. Recent films like “Insidious,” “The Conjuring” and “Sinister” sealed my new found love of the sub genre. “The Darkness” is the new kid on the supernatural block and it does not fail in its attempt to bring the spooky.
“The Darkness” begins with a seemingly normal family vacation to the Grand Canyon. While exploring the canyons, the Taylor’s young son stumbles upon some rocks that are not meant to fall into young hands. Upon returning home, the family’s struggles escalate and so do the things that go bump in the night. We are talking about mysterious noises and shadows, freak animal encounters, a neighboring dog that barks for no reason, and mysterious handprints manifesting out of nowhere. Yeah, good luck sleeping after watching this one late at night. The film starts off slow, but that is not to its detriment. I enjoyed the building crescendo of terror. Is this movie as good as “Insidious” or “Sinister?” No, but that doesn’t mean you should skip it.
“The Darkness” features great performances all around. Kevin Bacon and Radha Mitchell are great as the troubled Peter and Bronny Taylor. In full disclosure, I’m a huge Kevin Bacon fan. If he is in a film, I’m there with my money out. David Mazouz’s portrayal of Michael is fantastic. While he didn’t have much dialogue, he delivered the best performance in the film. Lucy Fry also delivers a solid performance as Stephanie Taylor. Be on the lookout for Paul Reiser as Kevin Bacon’s slimy boss. Imagine that, Paul Reiser playing a slimeball in a horror film. Damn you Burke … damn you … oh sorry … back to business.
Universal has put together a fairly decent blu-ray package for “The Darkness.” The film’s transfer is flawless. This is especially evident during the family’s trip to the Grand Canyon at the opening of the film. As my fellow horror nerds know, a great audio mix is key for a supernatural horror film like this. This one delivers the goods and kept me looking over my shoulder. I suggest hitting the lights and fire this one up late at night.
The amount of special features on the disc won’t blow you away, but the quality of them will. The highlight is an alternate ending I wish they would have kept in the film. It is scarier and more shocking than the theatrical ending. I was genuinely spooked. Needless to say, I wasn’t roaming the hallways of my house in the dark after watching. Be sure to check it out. Rounding out the special features are nine deleted scenes, some of which would have been quite good in the finished film. Make sure you take a look at the deleted scene featuring Kevin Bacon in an elevator. I may never be able to get into an elevator at night again.
THE VERDICT: “The Darkness,” while slow at times, is a great entry into the realm of supernatural horror. If you are a fan of what Blumhouse delivered up until this point, you should head to the store and pick this one up. You will not be disappointed.
“The Darkness” is available now on Digital HD, Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD.