Some wines get better with age. Just make sure they are in the proper environment, and they will improve as time passes. This is not the same with movies. When a company shelves a film, it is usually because the film is a stinker. All promotional materials for Darkness proclaim "Some secrets should never come to light," and the filmmakers were clearly more correct than they realized. Miramax is slipping the film into theaters during Christmas as counter-programming. Darkness is an incomprehensible, lame horror movie that manages to bore its viewers into submission. It also comes via Spain, so all of the locations, and most of the cast and crew are Spanish, while nearly all the lead actors are American.

The bulk of the film takes place in a large dilapidated house that an American family recently moved into. Mark (Iain Glen, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) and his wife Maria (Lena Olin, Hollywood Homicide, The United States of Leland) are relocating to this house, out in the boonies yet only ten miles from the nearest city, with their children Regina (Anna Paquin, X2: X-Men United, The 25th Hour) and Paul (Stephen Enquist). Mark grew up in Spain, but moved to America after the divorce of his parents. Immediately, they all notice strange things about the house. There are unexplained nightly electricity outages, and Regina and Paul are especially freaked out at the strange things that happen around them. Paul has mysterious bruises and draws weird pictures, while Mark, who has Huntingdon's disease, is suffering from a relapse. Meanwhile Maria frets about the condition of the house, ignorant to everything else.

The two other primary characters are Mark's father (Giancarlo Giannini, Man on Fire, Joshua) and Regina's friend Carlos (Fele Martinez, Bad Education, Talk to Her). The caliber of actors here is high, yet the movie is pure dreck. The acting is so-so, hampered by a limp script that provides a plethora of bad lines. The worst element of the script, co-written by director Jaume Balaguero (The Nameless, Dias Sin Luz), Fernando de Felipe (Killing Words) and Miguel Tejada-Flores (Beyond Re-Animator, The Unsaid) makes no sense whatsoever. There are huge leaps on logic, and they reveal large portions of the plot James Bond-villain style, where the bad guy tells all while one person is tied up. Nothing happens for at least half the movie, and this both lulls the audience into a sense of complacency and bores them.

The only thing that Balaguero has going for Darkness is some very moody lighting and effects. The house is so dark that it is hard to see anything. This is pretty nifty at first, but gets old really fast. Many scenes are near black, and worse, he uses an annoying slow fade to black on more than one occasion. Incorporating this into the story makes no sense. Why the constant outages? Are Mark's attacks related to what is going on? Many eerie things happen to the various family members, but in light of the final revelations, they make no sense whatsoever. Balaguero had these things happen seemingly to add in scary moments. When it ends, there is a sense of "is that all?" to Darkness. It never fails to disappoint.

Haro Rates It: Really Bad.
1 hour, 42 minutes, Rated R for terror/violence and language.

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