Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Ghosts don't have to make sense. In fact, their very existence is a mystery. And yet in films, their actions must account for something.

The weakness of Darkness is that having created an intriguing, scary situation, no one knows what to do next. Fear dissipates as shocks accumulate, not in an Evil Dead kind of way, but like vehicles in a motorway pile up.

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An American family (played by a Scot, a Swede and a New Zealander) move into a haunted house in Spain. Mark (Iain Glen) has a stress related disease which can be life threatening. Either he passes out and needs help breathing, or gets violent - or both. Either way, it's tough on wife/mother Maria (Lena Olin) and confusing for teenager Reggie (Anna Paquin). The youngest, Paul (Srephen Enquist), is a quiet, introspective child, who likes to draw. One day he says, "They eat my pencils," which sounds stupid, until you realise who "they" are.

Reggie is the sensible one, although, being 16, a bit off the wall. She understands that Paul doesn't make stuff up and when he says he's frightened of the dark, the grown ups should respect that.

Dad/Mark is too sick to notice and Mom/Maria too unhappy to listen. Granddad (Giancarlo Giannini) is a doctor at the local hospital, who dabbles in the dark arts when no one is looking. There's also Reggie's boyfriend (Fele Martinez), who is used as a get-out-of-jail-free card, when required.

The plot and the special effects implode simultaneously and you don't know whether to laugh, or cry. Director Jaume Balaguero gives every impression that he is capable of making The Other Others, when they get round to doing a sequel, but is hindered here by a goofy script.

Glen overacts, Olin stays focused and Paquin steals the film, only to discover that it isn't worth much. The ending drives you crazy, because it leaves every loose thread hanging and suggests two, or three, interpretations, none of which is satisfactory. It's like "what if" in triplicate, when all you want is closure.

Reviewed on: 19 Mar 2005
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An American family move into a haunted house in Spain.
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Director: Jaume Balaguero

Writer: Jaume Balaguero, Fernando de Felipe

Starring: Anna Paquin, Lena Olin, Iain Glen, Giancarlo Giannini, Fele Martinez, Stephen Enquist

Year: 2002

Runtime: 102 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US/Spain


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