Las Tinieblas: The Darkness

The Darkness was a weird one, even by my standards, but I somewhat enjoyed its particular brand of bizarre, despite feeling that the film overall seems a bit… incomplete. It’s a Spanish horror film, but one of those ones that seems to shirk the conventions of sub-genre and aspires to be something completely unique. Somewhere in a perpetually fog enshrouded, seemingly post apocalyptic wilderness, a paranoid fellow (Brontis Jodorowsky, son of legendary filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky) lives in a small cabin with his three grandchildren, in constant fear. He claims that if they go outside a mysterious ‘beast’ will come for them, and makes them wear gas masks if they set one foot outside for food or water, for fear of some vague toxicity in the air. Indoors doesn’t seem all that much better though because he’s kind of an unstable whack job who has an extremely unsettling collection of puppets he brings out, plus his rules and phobias just come across as… nuts. Soon the eldest grandchild, who bears the brunt of his antics, gets suspicious and it puts a tense saga of attempted escape and surreal, dreamlike imagery into motion. This is an arthouse film through and through, a style that I love but sometimes they get too loose, unstructured and neglect to tell a story that has any kind of discernible substance to it beyond just.. weird stuff happening. There are some absolutely striking visual terrors on display including aforementioned puppets, who are terrifyingly lifelike and a strange, split second glimpse at some kind of monster who may or may not be there for real, and the atmosphere is a smothering auditory tarpaulin of palpable unease that hangs over everything as does the eternal Silent Hill-esque fog. The film looks and sounds amazing and is very immersive from an atmospheric standpoint, it just needs more: a smidge more tangible exposition, a longer runtime to flesh things out and some more character to development to make it the full package. An almost great film.

-Nate Hill


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