There’s a saying in the culinary world that “everything’s better with bacon.” That often applies in the film industry as well, in the form of one Kevin Bacon. But sometimes even Bacon can’t save a flawed plot with the best of intentions.
The Darkness comes out on DVD September 6, and this horror film stars Bacon as well as the fabulous Radha Mitchell as a couple who have a troubled teenage daughter and autistic son. We’re off to a fairly good start there. It’s somewhat cliched, but good talent.
I also love when a horror film works in some historical facts to back up supernatural events, and including some past Anasazi legends also gave me hope for something really unique and scary in The Darkness. Calling up some kind of ancient evil can be one of the scariest premises in horror, but sometimes it goes a little off track. Unfortunately, The Darkness is one of those films where the train completely jumped the track.
One thing that some horror writers and horror directors don’t seem to understand is that even though you’re dealing with supernatural principles, those fantastical elements still have to make sense. Even in a world where otherworldly events are occurring, they should form some kind of logic. Many of the supernatural elements in The Darkness don’t make sense, and the method of calling up this ancient evil is just too simplistic. Other things were confusing, such as the whole turning on the tap water schtick. Did I miss something that made that logical? Were they thirsty because they were desert-dwelling demons? I don’t get it.
Being logical and believable also applies to characters, and The Darkness does a fairly decent job in that regard, thanks to the talents of the cast, although there’s a pretty big flaw in logic in the alternate ending. But I’ll get to that alternate ending in a moment.
You have to care about the characters, and the teenage daughter was kind of annoying rather than sympathetic with her medical issue that came up during his troubled time in this family’s life. Also, mom likes to hit the bottle, and dear old dad has a history of fooling around in The Darkness. While these flaws might be nothing terribly new, I found it pretty appalling that his boss was hiring fresh meat for more affairs, even though Bacon was trying to be the good guy and fly straight.
Seriously, what is this nonsense? I don’t expect everyone to be perfect, and flawed characters make great tension, but a boss that actually hires people for his employees to have affairs with and encourages it? Oh, please.
Anyway, this film has some great ideas and great actors, but it just doesn’t feel fully fleshed out with those ideas in The Darkness. For some people, that may not bother them in the slightest. For pickier horror fans, that thin plot just won’t fly.
As for the The Darkness DVD itself, the Blu-ray has a beautiful high definition picture, and the opening sequences feature some beautiful southwestern scenery at the Grand Canyon. For extras, there’s not a whole lot of added features with this package, so you’ll have to settle for a bunch of deleted scenes that do help explain a few plot elements and developments.
The other special feature and arguably the best part of this DVD packaging of The Darkness is the alternate ending. While I suspect that it wasn’t a fully-polished final edit, being an alternate version, I would definitely argue that the alternate ending would have been the better choice. Although I do take issue with a plot flaw in this alternate ending when the Native American woman helping the family makes a decision not to reveal some key information. Nope, I’m not buying that.
Like many horror fans, I love Kevin Bacon. Stir of Echoes is one of my favorite horror films, and I am a child of the 80s. Likewise, Radha Mitchell has definitely earned her chops in horror, with Silent Hill and Pitch Black. However, hardcore horror fans with high standards had better pass. If you aren’t so picky, see it before picking up The Darkness on DVD.
It pains me to say this, but even though they say everything’s better with Bacon, a turd sandwich is still a turd sandwich, even with Bacon on top.
[Image via Universal Pictures International]