Monday, October 24, 2011

2011 October Horror Movie Challenge Movie 48: Darkness

I saw this movie twice in theaters when it came out, once dragging my friend Elijah to the bigger city an hour away from here so he could see it, too. I loved this movie and was excited about seeing it, and then I realized that every other horror fan seemed to HATE this movie and went around bashing it every chance they got. I didn't understand it then and I don't understand it now. People told me that I liked this movie once because I didn't know much about horror movies back then, but if I watched it now, I would realize why it was a bad movie and I wouldn't like it anymore. I can unequivocally say this is FALSE, because I watched it last week and loved it just as much then as I did when I saw it years ago. I love this movie, think it's great, and don't really get why other people seem to hate it so much.

Directed by Jaume Balagueró, who has become quite well-known in recent years for his brilliant [REC] films, this movie shows his talent for taking small spaces and common events and turning them on their heads until they become disorienting and frightening. The opening sequence grabs the viewer right from the beginning, as a group of children are kidnapped and brutally murdered, with only one child left alive because he somehow escaped and ran off through the woods, though he has no real memory of what happened to him or the other children. Cut to the present day, where we meet a family slowly coming apart at the seams. Anna Paquin is brilliant here as a teenage girl whose family has uprooted her and moved to Spain, taking her away from all her friends and dumping her in the middle of a country and a culture she doesn't like or understand. Her mother (played by Lena Olin) is cold and distant, basically telling her daughter to get over herself. Her father is suffering from a mysterious illness that causes him to break down under stress and lash out angrily at his family, and her little brother is sullen and quiet, scared of what is happening to his quickly unraveling family and equally terrified of whatever mysterious evil seems to be haunting their new house. Add to that a creepy old house filled with shadows and secrets, and you have the ingredients for a perfectly chilling haunted house story, and that's exactly what this movie delivers. Apparently it's not for everyone, but I love it, and the memory of it still occasionally haunts me on dark nights when the shadows in my room seem especially menacing.

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