(Plot: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 them all.)
(My thoughts:The TV spots boast this as a truly terrifying ghost movie. While it didn't exactly live up to being truly terrifying, it did succeed in being creepy, intriguing, and overall a very unsettling and dark supernatural flick.)
(Review:The film starts off with the voiceovers of a young boy and a detective, asking the boy if he can remember anything. It's hinted at that something truly frightening happened to this kid, but the connection this incident and the boy have to the events of the present is left to be explained later in the film. Soon after we are introduced to a family,living in Spain. A mother and father (Olin and Glen), their son Paul, and their teenage daughter Regina (Paquin). They have just moved into this spooky old house, and are excited about their new life. However, that soon changes when weird things start to happen, which take their toll on the family. After the father, Mark has an attack, upon during which we see flashbacks of a child running through the woods, his entire personality starts to change from that point as the film goes on. He gets angrier as each day passes. Regina and her mother Maria have an arguement about her dads condition. She thinks that *it's happening again*. We are never given any backstory on what these attacks exactly are, or the past encounters that Marks had with them. We are just told that these attacks aren't a good thing for Mark nor his family, due to the toll they take on his personality. and The name for what he has is called Hollingston syndrome. Meanwhile Reginas younger brother Paul whos afraid of the dark, shows up with a small bruise after the familys second night in the house.
Regina nor her mom can figure out where the bruises are coming from, but we are led to believe it has something to do with the entites lurking about in the house. The film takes place over the span of 1 week, and sort of steals from "The Ring" using the day alert plot device meaning as the days pass, the audience is shown a big black screen with Monday, or Wednesday on it. The house itself continues to have electrical problems, and an electrician is called in after Mark can't seem to find the problem with the power himself. The electrician says the same, he can't see what the problem could be. All are unaware that The entity known as The Darkness is whats keeping the lights off. Reginas dad blows up at the electrician, which catches her attention. Her dad is becoming more and more ill tempered and violent with every passing day in the house. Meanwhile, the strange goings ons in the house continue to happen. Flickering lights, shadows, things moving on their own. However, this entity is much more intelligently written than in most ghost films. It doesn't show itself, but yet in the form of small children, and only to the familys son Paul. Regina meets a boy named Carlos later in the film, as her dad finds an old picture of 3 ghastly looking people when he finds a secret chamber underneath the staircase,We later find out are the people in the picture are occultists. He also chops up the floor, claiming to be searching for a nest of larvae. Regina and Carlos go to talk to the architect of her familys house. He is leary at first about telling them anything, but he does tell Regina that he was told through a middle man of sorts, how the house should be built, designed, etc. and That it was very important he did the house exact to the directions. Meanwhile as her brother Paul continues to be more bruised every morning, and her dad has yet another attack, Regina finally decides to get to the bottom of whats going on. So she decides to stay alone in the house, while her family stays at the hospital with her dad. This is where the creepiest scenes take place, even one involving one of the ghastly trio in the painting escaping the painting into the room with Regina,while shes completely unaware of it's presence there. She also removes the floor boards where her dad was chopping at to uncover a cult like circle with a serpent around it. Regina survives the night, as an eclipse, that happens once every 40 years approaches. The architect after uncovering some information on the house goes to warn Regina and her family of the impending danger, but Darkness intervenes, and kills him in a cut away scene as hes walking down a subway station tunnel.
Regina goes to talk to her grandfather about convincing her family to leave the house, but when shes called by Carlos, shes realizes her grandfather is connected to the strange happenings in the house. He ties her up soon after, and explains the entire story. He was part of a group of occultists who needed to perform a ritual ceremony where each one spills the blood of the child they love the most. The point of the ritual was to unleash evil in it's purest form, which is Darkness itself. However, he couldn't kill his son, simply because he didn't love him, so he let him escape. His son is Reginas dad. Which explains her dads attacks, Darkness was slowly driving him mad, so his wife would have no other choice but to kill him to protect her son, thus completing the ritual 40 years later, on the same day as the eclipse occurs. Carlos shows up to save Regina but her grandfather drugs him. He then releases Regina after showing her a snake in a tank, with a large egg, which he tells her something is about to be born from. As she escapes, he tells her now it's your turn. Meanwhile her father has gone totally mental, and has his wife and his son trapped in the bathroom. He then overdoses on his medication, and despite the efforts of his wife and Regina to save him, he dies, right on the occult designed circle. The ritualis now complete, and Darkness is lose in the house. As Regina goes upstairs to save her brother Paul whos trapped in his room by Darkness, Darkness tricks them both by taking the form of Marias son and daughter in an attempt to convince her to turn off the stove burners, while upstairs it takes the form of Reginas mom in an attempt to cpature them both. Regina doesn't fall into it's trap and escapes, but her mom does and is killed. Regina escapes, as Carlos pulls up in his car to rescue her. Setting up one hell of a twist ending, which I won't give away.)
(Pros:This was a very unique take and twist on the usual ghost tale. I liked the mythology aspect behind the whole Darkness legend, as well as the dark take on the ritual itself. The acting by Anna Paquin was a bright spot, as well as the overall creep factor of the film. The ending was also a step away from the usual happy ever after types. The film had some nice tense scenes, and also I liked the way they sustained a since of dread during the movie, as we watched the son get more bruised by Darkness visiting him every night, and Mark losing his sanity more and more, it gave the audience the feeling that Darkness itself was closing in more and more day by day.)
(Cons:I got the sense that alot was cut from the film. You could pretty much point out the story gaps, and pretty much knew when some of the plot was skipped over to move onto the next scene. Also I wish we had gotten some more background info on the occult which was responsible for the deaths of those 6 kids 40 years ago. The shaky camera angle was very annoying, and the fact that the mother was in denile about everything got annoying after awhile. Also I didn't understand why Paul kept quiet about the bruises for so long. Maybe had he mentioned them sooner, they might have left the house, rather than staying.)
(Overall:A great ghost movie. I would put it above "The Grudge" by a hair, for the simple fact that it wasn't contrived or predictable, and it was also uniquely scary and very dark in mood.)