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When Charlotte - a beautiful, broke student - is offered a job cat-sitting in a vast Georgian manor house over a long weekend, at £200 per night, she can't believe her luck, but her employers are far from being the harmless eccentrics that they appear to be.
'Darkness Wakes' drew me into seeing it, with a cool poster/cover, an intriguing if not particularly original premise and as someone with a general appreciation for horror. That it was low-budget, which from frequent personal experience is rarely a good sign due to that there are so many poor ones out there, made me though apprehensive as well as the low rating and poor reviews.
It is sadly however yet another film seen recently, hence some reiteration because the exact same strengths and flaws those films have are present here, that to me was incredibly disappointing considering its potential which it doesn't do anywhere near enough with. 'Darkness Wakes' is terrible, with a plethora of problems (huge ones too) and doesn't do enough with its potential, which was hardly small. There is next to nothing to recommend.
Lets start with the sole positive. The setting is atmospheric and spooky.
Unfortunately, it is not done justice by the rather direct to video schlocky way it's shot and edited and the drab colour palette, so much so it was hard to appreciate it, it was very clear that the film was made in a rush with no care or enthusiasm. In particular, the camera work was a nauseous assault on the eyes with its excessive amateurish-ness.
Going on further to the negatives, the story does feel paper thin, disjointed and over-stretched and some of it feels vague, under-explained in the last third where the film especially became duller, more predictable, more senseless and less scary. Too many characters are too sketchy and with nowhere near enough to make one want to endear to them. Their annoying and illogical decision making and behaviours frustrates.
Making the film feel bland and forgettable with not enough heart put into it. The effects are ropy at best, the sound quality is obvious and utilised cheaply (being too loud in the build ups and people's reactions) and it's best not mentioning the uniformly lumbering and histrionic acting that shows a huge indifference to the situation and what is going on and extremely awkward prolonged pauses.
Dialogue can be stilted and rambling, with lots of clichés, lots of unintentional humour that makes some of the film play like a really bad spoof and no depth whatsoever, while the pace goes to a standstill very quickly and drags on forever with very little going on worth caring about and useless padding, never recovering. Found too many the supposedly shocking moments not surprising or scary and the supposedly creepy atmosphere dreary, due to the excessive obviousness, a lot of dumb and vague moments and explanations and the lack of tension and suspense. Would not have minded the lack of originality (the film is extremely derivative and in a dumbed and watered down way) if the story and atmosphere were at least alright in execution, in reality they were both very poorly done.
A lot of 'Darkness Wakes' has underdeveloped plot elements and often nonsensical and confusing character motivations, while too many of the things to make you jump or shocked are far from creative or scary and are pretty tame. The ending makes the film finish on an incomplete and confused whimper.
There is not enough threat, and what there is of it tends to be used poorly, it is completely unimaginative and more odd than creepy, completely failing to show any sense of horror or creativity. Everything here is neither creative, suspenseful or nail-biting. Some badly sagging momentum too. The direction is leaden and like their heart was not in it or ill at ease, with the chemistry between the characters and actors coming over as constantly random and aggressive with the subtlety of an axe.
Overall, awful with no redeeming value apart from an element that is difficult to appreciate with it being complemented so badly. 1/10 Bethany Cox
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