DarknessDimension Films
2004
PG-13

“I don’t like the dark here, it keeps eating my pencils.”

Ah, what could have been. Listen, I went into this movie knowing that Dimension Films messed with the original “R”-rated version to chop it down to a more acceptable (read: Profitable…well, in the minds of the studios, anyway) “PG-13”-rated version. But I really wasn’t expecting something this bad. In Europe, where horror fans got to see the uncut, untouched, and untainted version, this film got very glowing reviews from genre fans. However, that was back in 2002/2003, when it was originally released. Since I happen to live in America, where the movies I get to see more often than not get stuck through the big studio wringer, Dimension Films (who, it seems is hurting nowadays…perhaps because, gee, I don’t know…YOU’RE DICKING AROUND WITH THE FORMULA?!? Yeesh…), in their “let’s follow the sell-out, PG-13 trend” wisdom cut this thing down so much that, even if you’ve never seen the original film uncut (which I haven’t), you can tell that there’s things missing…

Essentially, beyond the studio meddling, The Darkness played out more like a horror compilation mix tape than a full-fledged narrative. There’s elements of The Amityville Horror, The Ninth Gate, Darkness Falls (*shudder*), and a bit of A Nightmare On Elm Street at the end, with an over-all creepy Silent Hill vibe with the heavy use of shadows and camera angles. There was a certain ceiling-crawling creature that caught me off guard (nice)…

Really, why the studios continue to mess with what could have been an tremendous horror cult film to try and turn it into something it’s not just baffles me. The film itself was remarkably macabre-looking, deliciously atmospheric dark movie, with a script that, although high-quality, seemed to have familiar ideas that were never explored deep enough. I sat there and saw the “twists” coming twelve parsecs away (the first time the Grandfather appeared early on in the second reel, I managed to pinpoint his involvement in the plot). And that whole sub-plot with the boyfriend went nowhere. See, it had enough problems without the studio messing with it to try and squeeze a few more dollars out of the movie-going public…

Bottom line, really, is that I left this movie a bit confused and let down. The obvious “PG-13” working were glaringly evident (there’s a “bleeding walls” scene that was cut, and the lack of “profanity” just took the impact out of the scene where the father character was shouting “FREAKING!” instead of…well, you get the idea), and the ending just…confused me. Looks like I’ll be waiting for the original “R”-rated cut on DVD…just to see what I missed…stupid Hollywood studios…