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Regina’s family has moved back to her father's childhood home in rural Spain, and almost immediately strange things begin to happen. Dad begins suffering from life-threatening seizures, something they thought he’d been cured of years earlier. Power in the house often flickers and goes out, even though an electrician can find nothing wrong. After discovering a hidden room beneath the staircase, Dad also becomes obsessed with the bizarre items found there, including a photo of three blind women.
The young son, Paul, has his own obsession. He works on badly drawn pictures of children while a mysterious force stalks him in his bedroom. Regina keeps thinking she hears things around the house, while Mom, always tired from working the late shift at the hospital, doesn’t notice much of anything.
The house holds some dark secret, but no one’s quite sure what. Slowly, Regina learns that it had been the scene of a horrific ritual child-sacrifice 40 years earlier during a full eclipse of the sun. Seven children had been kidnapped, but one escaped. Could the mysterious goings-on have anything to do with the fact that another full eclipse is only days away? Is her dad the only child who escaped from the sacrifice a generation before? If so, why has he returned to the very scene of the crime? What peril awaits the family if they stay in the house?
This is a loving, tight-knit family. Mom and Dad frequently express affection for each other and their children. Regina shows great concern for her brother and tries to comfort him whenever possible. Regina’s boyfriend, Carlos, also goes out of his way to help the family.
The entire plot hinges on ritualistic satanic sacrifice. Regina uncovers a mysterious stone ring of dragons and serpents beneath the living room floor, apparently a sacrificial altar of some sort. We frequently see ghostly images of the dead children, and in one scene a witch-like figure scampers across the ceiling. In another scene, a witchy woman appears on the subway to taunt a character who holds a key to solving the mystery.
Dad tells his son, “You’re psychic. You knew the room was there.” (In fact, the boy knew nothing about the hidden room.) A man says that Regina, upon returning to the house during the eclipse, has entered hell. A now-elderly man who was complicit in the first murders tells Regina that she must have faith in evil. “Darkness knows a great deal,” he says. He also tells her one more sacrifice is necessary, and it must involve the victim’s throat being cut by someone who loves him.
Various family members are lured into danger by evil doppelgängers. A photo shows young girls wearing communion dresses. (This photo was apparently taken just before they were kidnapped and murdered.)
Regina wears a tight-fitting tube top that exposes portions of her bra. Her boyfriend pinches her bottom. Mom also wears tightly fitting tops, but not as revealing as Regina's.
A man attacks another with a medical syringe and rams it into his abdomen. Dad has a seizure while chopping vegetables and badly cuts his hand (off-camera). We know he's cut himself badly because he wears a blood-drenched bandage for the rest of the movie. Mom gives Dad an emergency tracheotomy using a pen and sharp knife.
Regina is tied to a chair, gagged and held captive by the one person who knows the whole story. Paul apparently suffers repeated attacks by the ghosts of the murdered children. At first, they inflict small, scratch-like wounds on his throat. By the end of the film, his face is badly bruised and his nose bloodied after a battle with the specters behind closed doors. Several times we hear Paul screaming for help as the child-ghosts attack him.
Crude or Profane Language
One spoken f-word, and a man begins to mouth another instance of it. Dad tells drivers in front of him to get their "a--es moving," and Paul repeats the joking insult several times. "H---" is used as an expletive several times. God’s name is twice abused with "d--n."
Drug and Alcohol Content
Adults drink wine at a party. Mom smokes in a few scenes, and Dad drinks a beer.
Other Negative Elements
Regina occasionally shows disrespect toward her dad, particularly when she believes he’s going to hurt Paul.
The first thing you might notice about this review is the repetition of the word "apparently.” That’s because the film is so poorly lit and dimly directed, and the plot is so incoherent that at times you must literally guess what is happening. Mistaking leaden pacing for suspense, director Jaume Balagueró has perhaps done us all a favor: made a really, really bad—bad—movie.
[Spoiler Warning] As problematic as the horror genre can be, this film goes beyond the pale with its theme of incomplete child sacrifice and the fact that evil triumphs in the end. (The latter is a disturbing trend in haunted house flicks, by the way. The Japanese spook film The Grudge ends in a similar fashion.) Surprisingly, however, this is one horror film that goes light on the gore and violence that usually accompany the genre. Given how bad the film is, perhaps they just didn't have the budget for buckets of blood—perhaps the one positive thing that could be said about this awful film. As another reviewer has noted, your 95 minutes could be more profitably spent simply sitting in a darkened theater. After suffering through Darkness myself, I'd have to agree.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Anna Paquin as Regina; Lena Olin as Maria; Iain Glen as Mark; Stephan Enquist as Paul; Giancarlo Giannini as Albert Rua; Fele Martínez as Carlos
Jaume Balagueró ( )