I've just returned from the DARKNESS premiere in the Sitges Film Festival and, well, what can I say. After a loooong post-production (more than 1 year), many things said (about DARKNESS saving the Fantastic Factory from being an Awful Movies Factory, about Balagueró's new and completely out of his style film, OT: LA PELICULA, the comparisons with THE OTHERS,...) here it is, finally, this long awaited movie (at least in Spain)
And what a movie. If Balagueró's first film, LOS SIN NOMBRE, was a good example of what a 'horror film' should be this new film, while similar, offers even more shocks, thrills and suspense telling just what is needed and using SUGGESTION as the tool to create the magic word: HORROR.
The story: a family from the US (Olin and Glen are the parents, Paquin and Enquist the sons) moves to their new house in Spain. We learn just at the beginning that SOMETHING happened there. Something about kids, one that escaped, a circle. And soon strange things begin to happen: the father behaves in an strange way, the little son is noticing a presence, etc. (SPOILERS) Regina (Paquin) is witness of the disintegration of her family and too, notices something, so she, with the help of her boyfriend Carlos (Martínez), investigates if what's happening to her beloved ones has something to do with the house and the presence (or darkness) living there. They find Villalobos (Reixach) the architect that builded the house following the instructions of an strange group of men and...well, Mark's (the father) sickness is increasing, the mother seems to be blind in front of what's happening, little Paul's pencils begin to disappear, Regina receives ominous telephone calls,...
Jaume Balagueró has created a truly horrifying movie. Yes, he uses elements not new in the genre (old pictures found in the basement, old newspapers telling the story, a character that is not what he/she seems,...) and the screenplay is not perfect at all but combining so many excellent elements, like the direction, the performances (wonderful all of them), the lighting, the soundtrack or the special effects he succeeds in having you glued to the screen and almost being not able to talk after the horrifying (and smart, like the LOS SIN NOMBRE one) ending. Among the best scenes are one where Regina is called "B*tch!" by a mysterious shadow, the appearances of the "kids", the disappearances of the pencils, Paul and his father in the car and a big etc.
The performances: Anna Paquin and Lena Olin are amazing and wonderful, they give the best performances of the cast. Iain Glen is incredible, too, I expected less from his character. Newcomer Stephan Enquist is very impressive in a difficult role. Giancarlo Giannini and Fermí Reixach aren't given much to do but they're good in such *dark* roles. The only one that doesn't convince me is Fele Martínez, both his character and his performance are bland and unimpressive.
Summarizing, a great, great success and an excellent film by Balagueró and the Fantastic Factory, especially recommended for those who love to be shocked and for those who think that they can't be shocked.
You'll be afraid of darkness again... ;)
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