THE DARKNESS (aka DORCHA, 2021)
Directed and written by Tharun Mohan.
Starring Amelia Eve, Katherine Hartshorne, Cyril Blake, Adam Bond, John Sugden, Mary Drake, Jo Hart, Michelle Archer, Gillian Kirkpatrick, Nicholas Gauci, Natali Servat, Marian Elizabeth, Ivan Murphy, Max Gregor, Tharun Mohan, Honey Subin, Christopher Anson
When a young couple move into the house they inherited from their grandmother in the Irish countryside, they uncover some age-old secrets and end up being haunted by sins of the past. While her husband is busy in town during the day at work, Lisa (Amelia Eve) spends the day attempting to write the follow up to a hit novel while investigating the twisted past of their inherited estate.
The main reason to check this one out is THE HAUNTING OF BLY MANOR’s Amelia Eve who has an absolutely charming Naomi Watts/Susan George quality to her making her interesting no matter what she does. Not only is she sexy as all get out but is able to shift from vulnerable to sassy to determined to possessed by evil spirits and be likeable all the way through. She’s definitely a star to look out for, just waiting to break out.
I don’t know if this is the role to do it though. This is too subtle of a film. It’s well-made, but very subtle. There’s something undeniably old school about THE DARKNESS. Filmmaker Tharun Mohan deals with the low budget by relying on the charm of his actors, but also peppers in quite a lot of old-time ghost trickery with opening and closing doors and windows, shadowy figures moving in the background, ominous music and lighting, and simple effects using red corn syrup, worms, and pale faces. Sure, in this day and age of CG effects and loud piano bangs, this may feel trite, but Mohan delivers these old school frights to keep things popping. I don’t know if they all work, but still I couldn’t help but be impressed by Mohan’s commitment to past horror techniques.
I fear many modern audiences may be put off by the low budget ingenuity Mohan displays with THE DARKNESS. Still, I was entranced by the lead, caught up with the amped-up melodrama, and impressed with this throwback. If you long for scary films from the past, THE DARKNESS is going to be the ghostly witchy tale for you.