When Greg McLean appeared on the scene with his terrifying, violent Outback survival horror thriller Wolf Creek, many believed it was the launching point for one of the next big names in horror movies. He followed it up with another film set in his native Australia, Rogue, a killer crocodile movie that’s pretty good but never succeeded in finding a large audience. After that, McLean kind of… went away? There was a six year gap between Rogue and his next directorial effort, Wolf Creek 2, a mostly satisfying sequel. And now, thankfully, McLean seems like he’s back and here to stay. Wolf Creek 2 was followed by production on a Wolf Creek TV series, The Darkness starring Kevin Bacon, and soon The Belko Experiment and Jungle. Sometimes artists just need a moment to collect themselves before starting on the next, apparently more prolific stage in their careers.
Today we’re talking about The Darkness, a film which… let’s just say it was not a critical success. On paper, this sounds like McLean’s most mainstream horror feature: Kevin Bacon’s family goes to the Grand Canyon, disturbs an angry spirit, and the spirit follows the family home, terrorizing them all the while. And yes, it is McLean’s most mainstream movie, if by mainstream you mean it’s conventional and lazy and formulaic and it reminds you of a hundred other movies all at once. It’s a little Poltergeist and a lot Poltergeist 2, with some generic Native American mysticism to help sell the supernatural elements of the film.
The thing that can often sink horror films is bad character development and lame acting. The Darkness is different. The characters are well drawn and the acting is solid. Kevin Bacon and Radha Mitchell are solid and Lucy Fry, who plays their troubled daughter in the film, gives a surprisingly raw performance.
It’s just that the film is so bland and generic. It’s boring. (The final act does provide a couple cool moments, though.) McLean’s first foray into big Hollywood filmmaking can’t be called a success but I hope that doesn’t discourage him from future big budget efforts. As a fan of his earlier films, I look forward to whatever comes next.
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of books and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
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