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  Darkness Closing The Circle
Year: 2002
Director: Jaume Balagueró
Stars: Anna Paquin, Lena Olin, Iain Glen, Giancarlo Giannini, Fele Martínez, Stephan Enquist, Fermí Reixach, Francesc Pagés, Craig Stevenson
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: The family of Regina (Anna Paquin) have just moved to Spain, to an old house in the country where her father, Mark (Iain Glen) used to live before a spell in the United States. It is there that Regina feels most at home, and she confesses to her mother that she is not keen on staying and would rather return to America to finish school with her friends. Not only that but there's something about the house that sets her nerves on edge, nothing she can put her finger on yet there's a definite atmosphere of dread about the place. Little does she know that she has good reason to feel unsettled, for something bad happened there forty years ago - an event that might be completed come this week's eclipse...

For his English-langauge debut, writer (with Fernando de Felipe) and director Jaume Balagueró didn't have much luck with the desperately nondescriptly titled Darkness. Its American distributor displayed a lack of faith in the film and sat on it for two years until finally, almost reluctantly releasing it in a cut-down form where it made little impression. However, there were those who saw it because Balagueró's previous horror The Nameless had built up a following, and when his later his horror [Rec] did likewise, some were interested to see what else he had done.

There were some who fell for Darkness's carefully constructed suspense, but for most others the slow increase of tension was more a lack of energy leading up to a disappointing payoff. That ending is like a cross between The Shining and The Devil Rides Out, but before you reach that there's a lot of family troubles, all attractively photographed by Xavi Giménez in various stages of gloom, with the main bone of contention being that Mark has recently suffered a return of an old condition that makes him suffer seizures, so now he needs to take regular medication.

However, if he doesn't take his medication, let's say he can get a little cranky, and when he gets cranky another fit is not far behind, as happens when he is chopping potatoes for dinner and grows irritated - it's well worth noting that if you're in such a position it's a good idea not to be holding a sharp knife at the time. But if Regina is worried about her father's mental state, then she's rubbing up her mother, Maria (Lena Olin), the wrong way in her newfound desire for independence, and now her concern expands to take in her little brother (Stephan Enquist) who is developing odd bruises around his neck.

With the assistance of her boyfriend, Carlos (Fele Martínez), she does some digging at the local library and discovers that a terrible tragedy occured at the house at the time of the previous eclipse, and what do you know? It could well happen again unless Regina can skulk about a bit more and stop her family walking into a trap set by... ah, but that would be telling. Existing in a strange Spain where everyone speaks English, although grandfather Giancarlo Giannini does so with an Italian accent, Darkness needed a more lucid, more punchy conclusion to really make it worth your while. Paquin frets with the same look of concern fixed on her features throughout, and the actual supernatural business is surprisingly muted. Better as a mood piece than anything else, the film is a footnote between two more interesting works. Music by Carles Cases.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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