Thursday, March 18, 2010

Darkness (1993)

The 90's was the era in which the Shot on Camcorder and Super 8 video flick came further into play. It started in the 80's, but it wasn't until the 90's that this phenomenon really started to take off. In a sense, it's a bit understandable as to why so many kids would pick up their mom's camcorder and make gory horror flicks with friends. On one hand, it's fun to videotape you and your friends goofing off, and a lot of horror fans were disappointed that flicks like "The Evil Dead" and various Italian gore flicks weren't as marketable anymore. Plus, "The Evil Dead" was made for next to nothing with friends, so why not try it yourself? Well, that's the thing-Sam Raimi and other directors had history of film school and other such ventures they were experienced with. There's about 1% chance you'll be the next Raimi or Peter Jackson. Case in point-the 1993 blood and guts spectacular "Darkness."

The story deals with a small community being under siege by a legion of vampires. After seeing a friend being attacked in a convenience store, a lone avenger named Tobe (Gary Miller, sporting the world's most tacky mullet) arms himself with a chainsaw, holy water and more to do battle with this army of vampires. In the process, he finds a group of survivors, as well as Liven, the king of the vampires.

To be fair, "Darkness" is actually better than many of it's micro-budget ilk of the 90's. It was directed by Leif Jonker, an enthusiastic horror buff who originally didn't intend the thing to be a real horror flick, but a promo reel of sorts. One thing led to another, and this is what the viewer gets. The gore effects are hit and miss (sometimes too easily resembling red Kool-Aid, other times quite effective and nauseating-check out the ending meltdown sequence for example), and the movie itself is done with a lot of enthusiasm. So much in fact, that it's hard to to appreciate all of the energy and love being put forth by those involved.

That out of the way, it's still not a particularity good horror flick. Being shot on Super 8, the entire thing is grainy and dark, sometimes to the point that you have trouble telling what's going on. The cheap keyboard score and bad Death Metal music (seriously, what is it with no-budget 90's to today horror and badly done Death Metal? And why does everbody look like they just left a Cannibal Corpse show?) is also annoying, and tends to grate on the ears. The biggest flaw though, is that there isn't a whole lot of meat on the ribs so to speak. Sure it's got enthusiasm and gore to spare, but it doesn't have much else going for it, and it becomes more apparent about halfway through. I'm sorry, but all the gore in the world isn't enough to save a movie if there isn't much else going on.

For fans of no-budget 90's horror and the like, "Darkness" isn't too bad, as it's more enjoyable and ambitious than many other films of it's ilk. For anyone else though, it's basically just a tedious but never hate worthy experience that you could probably avoid, as you wouldn't be missing a whole lot.

Rating: 4/10

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