darkness | jaume balaguero | fernando de felipe | anna paquin | lena olin | iain glen | ritual | cult | supernatural | united states | spain | giancarlo giannini | fele martinez | stephan enquist | fermi reixach | francesc pages | craig stevenson | lovecraftian
Director: Jaume Balagueró
Writer: Jaume Balagueró and Fernando de Felipe
Starring: Anna Paquin, Lena Olin and Iain Glen
This was a movie that I’ll be honest, I never heard of until it came up in the horror movie encyclopedia I’m working through. It intrigued me when I saw that Anna Paquin starred in this, as she is an actress I’ve seen quite a bit growing up. Aside from that, I came into this one blind. I will admit seeing the names in the opening credits of Jaume Balagueró, who co-wrote and directed this. Lena Olin and Iain Glen also intrigued me as I recognized them all from other things. The synopsis here is a teenage girl moves into a remote countryside house with her family, only to discover that their gloomy new home has a horrifying past that threatens to destroy the family.
For this movie, we start getting flashes of a house, some children running and it is occupied by a boy being interviewed. He doesn’t seem to remember much which is upsetting whoever is interviewing him. We then shift 40 years into the future and we are in Spain. A family has moved into a country house as the synopsis stated and they’re trying to get acclimated. We have a daughter of Regina (Paquin) who doesn’t seem to be going to school other than swimming. Her mother is a nurse of Maria (Olin) and the father is Mark (Glen). There is also a little boy of Paul (Stephan Enquist).
Paul is gifted a box of color pencils which makes him excited. He starts to draw and the subject of them is troubling to Regina. Paul is also bothered by being scared of the dark, which is new. He isn’t the only one troubled. Mark some time ago had fits that look like seizures. He has one driving Paul to school. Luckily his father is a doctor in the city by the name of Albert Rua (Giancarlo Giannini). He doesn’t seem to think this is anything to worry about.
When Mark is having this fit, we see images that are similar to the event that happened as a boy. There also seems to be a man who is watching the house at night. Paul starts to have marks on his neck and Maria seems to think that he’s doing it to himself. Regina thinks something is wrong here. The change in her father’s demeanor troubles her and Paul, while their mother doesn’t seem to think they should.
With an eclipse that only happens every 40 years looming, Regina feels something bad is going to happen. The more she looks into the house along with her boyfriend of Carlos (Fele Martínez), the more she feels that something bad is looming. Is Mark okay like her mother thinks or are there supernatural elements at play here? The history of the house might have an explanation and not everyone is completely truthful with what they know.
That is where I’m going to leave my recap and where I want to start is that I’m surprised I had never seen this until now. I’m shocked I haven’t heard much about it either. Balagueró is part of the team behind [REC]. This is a movie that he did before that and I have to say, it has some interesting elements. I do like that we get that eerie vibe to start knowing that something happened to a group of children. This boy is trying to help, but he is traumatized. We know this is going to come back into play later, it just sets that stage.
If you know me, I’m a sucker for mythology and cults. The deeper get into this, that is what we are somewhat dealing with here. I like that whatever or whoever is behind this, they’ve been waiting for 40 years to fulfill it. When they introduced the eclipse, I knew that was going to play into it. I’m not going to give away spoilers here, but we get some cool imaginary introduced. Mark finds this creepy picture of three women in older dresses with black eyes. He likes it where Maria finds it creepy. He wants to hang it up and she’s against it. This comes into play later with some of the scares. We also get this guy who is watching the house here. We will learn his name is Villalobos (Fermí Reixach). The information he relays makes it even creepier and it goes along with things that Carlos discovers as well.
Before I move away from the story, I do want to explore the title here. Paul wasn’t afraid of the dark until they moved into this house. Albert doesn’t find his new fear to be that unreasonable. Heck, when I was younger I was afraid of the dark. It wasn’t until I got a bit older that I realized I was scared of what could be in the dark and there are times I still get uneasy. Darkness in this movie is more of an entity and this makes it feel a bit Lovecraftian. As things get explored, I really like this concept it is using here, especially with the ending.
Now to move away, I think next I’ll go to the acting. Paquin is solid as Regina. She is our main character. I think that she fits it well for what we need. My only issue here would be with the writing. She’s a teen, but we never really see her actually have a routine like going to school. This confused me. The family dynamic here is interesting as well. Olin is a nurse so she is always tired and I can see that. Glen is steadily descending into madness that makes sense with things that get revealed. Giannini is solid actor and he fits the role of the grandfather well. I also think that Martínez, Enquist, Reixach and the rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed for me.
Then really the last thing to go into here would be the cinematography. I think the angles and the use of wide shots was well done. There are quite a few times we will be filming in a room where we are seeing out of the door, into this hall and can see into another room. I really liked this, especially since we get these children hiding in the darkness and the characters we are focusing on do not see them. This is effective for me. We don’t get a lot in the way of effects and what we do was done practical from what I could tell. I didn’t have any issues there.
So in conclusion, I’m pretty surprised this isn’t a movie that is talked about more. It has elements I really enjoy like cults, rituals, children being in peril and even a bit of Lovecraftian mixed in there. The acting is pretty solid across the board. It has good cinematography and what effects we get looked good to me. If anything, I think some things should be fleshed out just a bit more so I think the writing was lacking a bit. Aside from that, the soundtrack was fine, but it didn’t stand out to me. Overall though, it is a solid film that I think is an above average movie that should probably be seen by more people in my opinion.
My Rating: 7 out of 10