2016, Directed by Greg McLean
Written by Autism Speaks (you can’t convince me that this isn’t a propaganda film made by them)
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Radha Mitchell, David Mazouz
A family returns from a Grand Canyon vacation, haunted by an ancient supernatural entity they unknowingly awakened and engages them in a fight for their survival.
I am 21 years old (in fact, I will be 22 on Sunday.) In my lifetime, I have seen over a thousand movies. I’ve seen God knows how many terrible, awful pieces of celluloid garbage across all genres from all eras.
I can say with pure embarrassment and shame that this is the worst horror film I have ever seen. Not only that, but it immediately cemented its place in the 10 worst films of any genre I have ever seen.
“But Carly, I thought you said The Devil Inside is the worst hor–“
Nope. The Devil Inside isn’t a full movie. Doesn’t count.
The Darkness is completely unoriginal, unexciting, and utterly offensive. It was only 92 minutes long yet it felt endless. I hated every moment of it, and not just because of its lack of effort.
Troubles abound in the Taylor family: the father Peter (Kevin Bacon) is unfaithful, his wife Bronny (Radha Mitchell) has a drinking problem, daughter Stephanie (Lucy Fry) suffers from bulimia, and son Mikey (David Mazouz) is autistic.
The Taylors just returned from a long weekend in the Grand Canyon when Mikey brings home some rocks he found in the Canyon, and strange things begin to happen inside the house that happened in Poltergeist. And Insidious. And The Conjuring. And The Amityville Horror. And Oh, God! You Devil.
Face it. It serves no purpose other than to remind you that you could be watching something so much better.
There is nothing about the actual story that is scary, but there is so much about the film that is incredibly insulting, such as exploiting and stigmatizing Native American culture. But that isn’t even the worst part.
I may have written about this before, but I have Asperger’s Syndrome (a milder form of Autism.) I was diagnosed when I was five, and while I’ve mostly overcome the disorder, I still have some strange “quirks.”
Nevertheless, growing up with the condition was incredibly difficult. I struggled to fit in with my peers, was teased and mocked relentlessly, and felt like a huge waste of space. Worse, autism was treated like some horrible death sentence by kids my age. I once overheard a girl say “If my kid got autism, I’d kill myself.”
Mikey, the son, has Autism. He doesn’t talk a lot and keeps very much to himself. Doesn’t sound too bad, but the treatment of Autism in this movie is appalling. Whenever weird stuff happens in the house, Mikey is the scapegoat. He is treated like a burden from start to finish. In one scene, Peter even googles the link between Autism and the paranormal, implying that us people with Autism are scary freaks of nature.
I don’t even have any words for that, so…
A better explanation can be found on Letterboxd.
People gave Me Before You flak for being insensitive and painting people with disabilities as a burden to society that must be eradicated, but that was the more widely seen movie. If no one affected by Autism is going to be outraged by The Darkness, I’ll do it.
Remember Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which virtually blamed 9/11 on Autism? The Darkness makes me appreciate that movie a little more.
The fact that it’s a poisonous, vomit-inducing feature-length edition of the controversial “I Am Autism” commercial only exacerbates the fact that it’s a wholly derivative “greatest hits” compilation of better horror movies, with the third act nearly plagiarizing Poltergeist.
The cast is great, of course, but did they lose a bet? Could they really not find better work than this rubbish? Kevin Bacon appeared in another horror film I hate with every ounce of my soul, Hollow Man. It’s disgustingly misogynistic and mean-spirited, but at least Hollow Man was well made and actually felt like a movie put out by human beings.
Kevin, I love you, we all love you… do us a favor and fire your agent.
Radha Mitchell also does herself no favors by appearing in this crap. And she appeared in the Silent Hill movie, which I was indifferent about at best.
Nothing MST3K could dig up, no turd that Uwe Boll or Eli Roth could squeeze out, no crappy film among the grosses of crappy films spotlighted by my favorite movie reviewers, no Oscar bait that clumsily deals with autism can compare to this wretched pile of garbage.
This infuriated me like no other film. People with autism and other disabilities have a hard enough time in the world. We don’t need stuff like this ostracizing them from society even further. Especially not in 2016.
If you’re going to watch The Darkness, watch this instead.
Grade: SCREW YOU!
1h 32m, Rated PG-13 for for thematic elements, some disturbing violence, brief sensuality and language.
Studio: Hightop Releasing