directed by Alex Torres
A young man testifies against an unnamed individual, leading to a sentence in prison for 10 years. He attempts to convince himself that he did the morally right thing, yet doubts are immediately cast over his decision. As he rummages through his backpack, he finds a strange doll inside, containing a peculiar jewel. He throws it away and dismisses the whole thing, but once more menacing messages start to appear around the house, he begins to feel that he and his roommate are in danger, and that they are facing something out of the ordinary.
The film works rather well, and maintains a feeling of mystery and suspense from beginning until the very end. The viewer feels a distinct level of powerlessness, especially since the exact nature of the threat is never revealed – the trope which made other indie creations, such as ‘The Blair Witch Project’, so immersive and freaky. It points in a number of directions, but always leaves the audience guessing: is the bizarre doll endowed with voodoo powers? Is whatever it is that breaks into the home at night and leaves messages around something resembling the similar situation from David Lynch’s ‘Lost Highway’ or Michael Haneke’s ‘Cache’?
The technical side of the film is very proficient: the black and white filter seems very suitable, as are most of the filming techniques. The soundtrack, despite being generic for this kind of film, is dosed rather well, and helps conserve the predominant feeling of unease. There is a prolonged part shot in a found-footage style, which relies on tension building for a potential jump scare, and while stylistically sound it does not do much in terms of content. At times, speech comes off as mumbled and might be difficult to accurately understand: in the very beginning, the male character says ‘He got 10 years because of me’, which instead comes off as ‘You got 10 years because of me’. The quality of the acting is decent, although it fluctuates and fails to reach a consistency.
Ultimately, however, ‘Darker’ doesn’t rise up to the amount of promise which it exhibits. Its plot might be mysterious, but is equally simplistic and unrefined. Its execution is based on clichés, which work remarkably well together, but fail to reach the degree of freshness in terms of content which I would have expected. Its half thriller, half ‘Paranormal Activity’ structure guarantees the constant presence of chills throughout the first viewing, yet once everything is done, its banal plot twist and unsatisfying ending leave you vying for much, much more.