Originally released as Dorcha (Gaelic for “dark”), writer-director Tharun Mohan had the confidence to submit his debut feature film for a small host of festivals, including the Marché du Film – Festival de Cannes in 2020. As the film lacks scares, it is unsurprising that it lacked prizes too.
The original Gaelic name stems from the fact the narrative is focused in the rural town of Ballyvadlea in County Tipperary. Lisa (Amelia Eve) and her entrepreneurial boyfriend David (Cyril Blake) take a break to a remote family home there. Much like Jack Torrance in The Shining, Lisa has plans to start writing her new book. While writing, she discovers an early 20th century memoir in the house, written by Niav O’Connor (Katherine Hartshome). As Lisa reads it, though, her behaviour degenerates and she is eventually possessed by the spirit of Niav, who is keen for revenge for her past treatment.
Mohan seems to believe the strength of the film lies in the story, as there is little character depth provided. Even lengthier moments of dialogue feel deliberately truncated to serve the purpose of establishing narrative, backstory or mood. Once this has been demonstrated, the audience are quickly moved to the next scene. Ultimately, such a tactic renders many characters superficial and, ironically, exposes the trite plot.
The advantage of the cursory dialogue does mean the film never lacks in pace. At the same time, though, it exposes the fact that many unspoken moments are underscored by a clichéd soundtrack that overuses frenzied violin sounds to try to strengthen the shock value. The result, however, is as unconvincing as the ropy Irish accents adopted by some of the cast, particularly those playing characters when the narrative reverts to Niav’s timeline.
Overall, The Darkness comes across as the atypical horror flick whose purpose seems to be to fill the space on digital streaming platforms – one that sounds good from the synopsis, but is exposed as a spiritless B-movie within the first 15 minutes.
The Darkness is released digitally on demand on 3rd May 2021.
Watch the trailer for The Darkness here: