By Kurt Jensen
Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — A cut-rate budget leaves the possession-themed horror flick "The Darkness" (BH Tilt) looking more than a bit frayed around the
Big frights? Not here. Telekinesis? Nope. In fact, the low-rent demon at the center of it all mostly likes to turn on spigots when someone leaves a room.
Exorcism? A certain dread always attaches to screen portrayals of that ritual, since inevitably they’re turned into a sort of Latin-rant vaudeville routine with one-dimensional priests.
But in this case Dame Fortune has smiled on us, with all references to anything churchy — the fleeting sight of a crucifix, which goes unemployed, excepted — having been entirely excluded.
Kevin Bacon as Peter, the family patriarch, concedes that no one in his family has much of a belief in any faith, and even explains to wife Bronny (Radha Mitchell) that hotel rooms no longer have Gideon Bibles because many guests find them offensive. Who knew?
As a result, director Greg Mclean, who co-wrote the screenplay with Shayne Armstrong and Shane Krause, relies instead on two Native American exorcists equipped with copper dowsing rods, a feather and a stubborn determination to complete their task. Their intensity is not contagious.
The story gets rolling via a misadventure for the family’s autistic son, Michael (David Mazouz). On a clan vacation to the Grand Canyon, he falls down a hole into the remains of an ancient temple of worship dedicated to some off-beat spirits.
Said structure has somehow been missed, over the years, not only by all the tourists who flock to the area but by archaeologists as well.
Michael, who seldom speaks and doesn’t know fear, takes some sacred rocks home with him and finds that if he lines them up like tarot cards, the invisible demon quickly sets up shop and invites a few horned pals over to create sooty mayhem on the walls — and on other family members as well.
It’s what these demons always do, as Peter learns in an online video. And of course, they’re gunning for Michael’s soul after their sacred space was violated.
As for Michael’s teen sister, Stephanie (Lucy Fry), based on the way the intruders lurk around while she takes a shower, their interest in her appears to
be somewhat less spiritual.
The film contains an occult theme, a brief nongraphic bedroom scene between spouses, a couple of profanities, at least one rough term and some crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
– – –
Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.
Copyright © 2023 Catholic News Service, Inc. All rights reserved. Linking is encouraged, but republishing or redistributing, including by framing or similar means, without the publisher's prior written permission is prohibited.