Oct 10, 2015
Day 10: DARKNESS (2002)
"Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." Is it better? I'm not so sure. After all, if you've never loved anyone, you don't really know what you've missed. You live day to day without regretting or missing or pining or loathing the past. You don't wait for "the next" and compare him or her to "the last." You just sort of exist–but is your life truly lesser for it if you're ignorant as to what "it" is and what it feels like? I suppose Tennyson is saying yes, that even mucking about in the pits of despair is better than not doing that, for the despair is what lets you know you're a human and not, say, a rock. It's like bringing a dog or a cat into your life: we all know by know that they are just tragedies waiting to happen, timebombs ticking away to heartbreak. "I have, at most, about 20 years with you until you're gone and then I have to deal with you not being around anymore and what that feels like." It all comes down to those 20 years, right? Whether or not they're good enough to make the eventual enduring of the crushing blows of mortality worth it?
Okay, before I suck you into the temporal vortex of my ongoing existential crisis, let me assure you, this all super vaguely ties into Darkness, a rather forgettable Dimension Films film! You see, when Darkness was over, I says to meself, I says: "Hmm, I wonder, is it better to have loved the last five minutes of this slog of a movie than to have hated it all the way through?" Those last five minutes were a teasing glimpse of what we could have had together! Had those minutes not existed, I could have written Darkness off entirely...but now I'm saddled with the crippling knowledge* of what could have been.
*By "crippling knowledge" I mean "the brief thought: 'dang, that movie woulda been better if it had more of the last five minutes and less of the everything before that last five minutes. Also, let's be real here: in a year, if someone brings up Darkness I'll say 'Yeah, I saw that' and my brain, having purged nearly everything about it to make room for something else, will react with but a whiff of disappointment."
A family moves into home that used to be an orphanage or something maybe, I don't know, there were some kids there and six of the seven kids were killed for some Satanic ritual to bring about the "Darkness" but because the seventh kid lived the ritual failed and the dad of the family is the surviving kid all grown up and it's time for the ritual again because there's an eclipse coming.
There, that's the gist of it, and it sounds pretty good, right? I'm all about a Satanic ritual! But aye yi yi, Darkness takes forever in the getting there. I don't mean it's some slow burn–I'm all about a slow burn! No, rather this movie likes to tell rather than show, so it's largely a bunch of people talking in circles at each other...which might be fine if not for the truly fucking leaden performances. It's time for me to come clean: look, I just don't get Anna Paquin. Yeah, I know she won an Oscar when she was a baby or twelve or whatever, and sure, The Piano, as I remember it, is good. But since then, I don't really get how she has a flourishing career. Her facial expression doesn't change and she rarely makes eye contact with her fellow actors and everything is sort of mumbly and monotonous, and it's like she's more an actor computer program from Looker than a real human who actually won an Oscar that one time. I don't know, maybe she's great in things I've yet to see, but here she is like a big loaf of Wonder Bread taking up space.
But really, everyone is sort of Wonder Bread-y in that they're lifeless, even when yelling really loud. Everyone is awful in their own way, and the idea that these four people constitute a "family" is ludicrous. Dysfunction is fine, nuclear families are fine...but they don't relate to each other as anything beyond "four strangers in a house"; there's more warmth and familiarity, in fact, between "seven strangers in a house" on the first episode of any season of The Real World.
So overall, a huge disappointment. I was hoping for some hidden gem, particularly since Darkness was written and directed by Jaume Balagueró, who gave the world my beloved [REC]. Well, at least the last five minutes was pretty good. Tis better than the whole thing stinking...or is it? Ah, my existential crisis is flaring up again. Damn you, SHOCKtober!