It isn’t even horror movie season and I’ve been overloading on the stuff. I decided to take in a double feature this weekend, perfect timing at AMC between The Darkness and Conjuring 2. For a blisteringly hot Sunday, this was an excellent use of my time.
The Darkness starts out slow and builds like a wooden roller coaster. Two families take a trip to the Grand Canyon area. Of the three kids, only one is quite young and he is a little off. It isn’t until almost halfway through the movie that the parents state that he is autistic. I thought that slow burn was well worth the wait, and the child was played by a familiar face, David Mazouz, Bruce Wayne from Fox’s Gotham. I spent most of the movie trying to figure out why I recognized him. He has a Shia LaBeouf sort of look to him, but let’s hope he doesn’t have the same dark turn ahead of him.
Back to the movie, the family, helmed by Kevin Bacon and always impressive Radha Mitchell (see Silent Hill), the family try to ease back into normal life. The father is an architect, the wife a photographer. Considering their occupations, I was impressed that the drove a Porsche (the small SUV, Cayenne) and lived in a pretty expensive neighborhood. You know the movie isn’t keeping my interest if I can see these sorts of details. While on vacation, the youngest of the family, Mazouz’ Michael has brought something home with them and things start to get kind of crazy before culminating in an ending that could have been played far better, but still had the presumed effect.
There are two sort of distinct, main storylines in the movie. One is the obvious supernatural one. The second one, that could have been brought more to the forefront, but was still blaringly effective, was the effect that an autistic child’s needs might be on a family. At one point, we learn the father had an affair, the daughter is bulimic. It isn’t enough that the family is feeling the effects of the supernatural that before any of it started, at one point or another, everyone indulged in self-harm. Even the mother at one points turns back to alcohol for comfort. Is the movie saying that having an autistic child too much to bear? In the end, of course, it is because the child is autistic that he is able to save the day, so to speak.
I won’t spoil the end, though I sort of did that already, the movie is solid in the story it tells. Is it a story that you would want to see? I wonder. The movie somehow managed to stay in the theatre for almost 4 weeks, which to me, is pretty impressive. I wouldn’t say I was disappointed, but it certainly made me reflect on autism and why horror movies haven’t ventured down this path before.