Oh hey. How’s it going little turkeys? Did you spend this past weekend in a haze of ciders and heat? I sure did. Definitely spent a few nights cuddled up in my meat aisle air conditioned bedroom dreading the onslaught of the summer heat, nursing off a Strongbow.
This, however, is here nor there.
No one cares about me or how I choose to spend my fleeting years on this planet.. BUT! What people do care about is hard hitting journalism about oppressively bad movies, and boy oh boy are you in luck.
A couple weekends ago, a Friday night began, like many before it, with Rigby declaring that we should watch a no doubt terrible horror film and this time, that film was The Darkness, billed as a supernatural horror. I had seen previews for it and it looked mildly interesting, and since you don’t have to twist my arm for me to sign up and sign away 90 minutes or so of my life, we sat down to watch.
Now. I’ve stated before in previous reviews for both The Veil and for Hush, that I have some fairly major issues with Blumhouse productions, which is arguably one of the largest if not the largest production houses producing horror media. These issues are mainly my own but stem from my own stymied hatred of paint by numbers horror films. I just can’t. While I did enjoy what Hush offered in terms of unique plot devices, it did ultimately suffer from the same relative tropes that Blumhouse is known for. The Darkness is also a Blumhouse feature and unfortunately it dives from regular paint by numbers horror into just plain awful and borders on offensive for a lot of it as well..
Kevin Bacon is in this piece of shit and plays a skeleton with some mummified skin stretched over it (Dad) and the hot mom from Silent Hill, Radha Mitchell reprises her role as mother to possessed damaged child, which I’m sure is a feature on her CV by now.
The basic premise of the film is that the family is visiting the Grand Canyon and fucking around in the desert and the autistic son Mikey falls into a hole where he finds some polished black stones with strange engravings on them and takes them home and soon strange things begin to happen.
Sound familiar? Sound anything like a little movie called, “The Possesion” wherein a little girl brings home a box with a dybbuk inside? Weird, how that works, right?
Anywho, the stones turn out to belong to the Native American tribe of Anasazi peoples and since the little boy fucks around with them so much, soon a little ghostly friend named Jessica comes out to play with him.
Did I mention yet that this movie shoehorns in that this child is autistic in an attempt to create some tension within the family that initially his weird behaviour and routines are just brushed off as his “disability”, before Kevin Bacon as Skele-Dad takes to the internet and finds out that autistic people are more in touch with the spirit realm and thus more prone to possession? Because yeah. This is all in here, and it’s not okay.
In an attempt to use a trendy buzzy word and trendy diagnosis, that being autism and autism spectrum disorder, this film comes off as terribly even more so paint by numbers. Throw in a buzz word and hopefully people won’t notice that the script is basically stolen from the Possession, right?
Further, it’s a bit insensitive to autistic people, I have ASD and I didn’t find this portrayal cute or endearing, it was just the Coles notes of a disability and it really didn’t impress.
Now, I get that horror is a genre built on exploitation, totally get it. I also realize that most of comedy is as well, and I endeavour most highly to not allow my own political leanings to color my writing like a fucking picture pages SJW tumblr, and yet I question the validity of including this child as autistic. I mean, we’ve all seen countless films before where the children are simply children and act as portents into the world of spirits by simply being children.
Regardless of it all, it didn’t sit properly with me and it felt really shoehorned in at the last moment, and even later when the older sister Stephanie is revealed to be a bulimic who vomits into containers which she stores under her bed, which makes no fucking sense.
AND.. I mean no wonder her mom was mad – she was able to find out where all the fucking tupperware in her house was going.
I also feel that this eating disorder thing was sort of shoehorned in to create tension amongst the mother and sister and really the sister didn’t even need to exist as a character, so I feel this was really tacked on last minute. We got the snippet of – “oh she has an eating disorder”, but then nothing comes from it.. she wanders into a therapist’s office and that’s kind of the end of the whole thing which is pretty confusing.
Anyways enough about this family, because it’s giving me a headache, and back to the casual racism. As Rigby has previous touched on in her review of The Forest, there exists a casual and odd racism peppered into white hollywood films, and the Darkness is unfortunately mired pretty deeply in it. Like the Aokigahara Forest and the film it inspired, the actual film The Forest would have been better off to be set in a fictional place. With Japan’s booming suicide rates and the taboo around suicide, it’s pretty insensitive to even set a film in this location and then to cast pretty much only white people in it. Like, yeah okay.. no worries on that casual white washing there..
The Darkness uses the real tribe of the Anasazi people, the ancient predecessors to the modern Pueblo peoples (the Navajo, the Hopi, etc), and fucks up their mythology, turns it scary and essentially turns the Darkness into a super weird cowboys and indians Redskins type of bullshit. Ah yes, the filthy savages of old come to fuck around with the whitest and most dysfunctional family on the block.. interrupting soccer practice and gentrification of a neighborhood..
Again – Pet Sematary did it. The Shining did it. Come to think of it.. maybe Stephen King was just weirdly racist against Native Americans.. and I mean, Poltergeist did it too.. making the weird Native American magick come back to bite whitey in the ass.. I know it’s there and I know those movies were pretty seminal, but I just can’t help thinking that you know.. this could have been fictionalized.
I feel that this touches a bit too close to home for me anyways because I’m Native. I don’t think this is cute, I don’t think it’s scary or mystical or anything, it’s just weirdly racist.
We live in a time where the liberation of this age will not only be transgender individuals, but it will also be our indigenous populations, and to make a movie that is essentially a super racist Hollywood cowboys and indians trope in 2016 is bad form, bad taste, and insensitive.
I’m sure there are individuals out there who disagree, but I just don’t feel that this okay. It left a weird taste in my mouth, and again, like the Forest, simply fictionalizing this aspect of the story would probably have been a little better.
What grates my carrot with this film is how predictable it becomes. Kid brings home rocks. Demons follow. Family terrorized. Family has to band together. Father fights off demons and son overcomes his autism to help out his family and then the movie literally ends with them having a fucking picnic.
Like. Is this what the genre has become now in 2016? Racist, ableist, and ending with a bunch of white people having a picnic celebrating their conquering of that evil heathen magick?
In the words of Rick Sanchez.. DUMB. DUMB.
I dunno. I wanted to even remotely enjoy this film, but I didn’t.
It’s worth a watch, I mean, if you’re really high and you’ve already masturbated, then yeah by all means. Go nuts.