This article was last modified on October 10, 2020.


NIGHTSTREAM review: DARKNESS

Stella (Denise Tantucci), a young girl, lives with her father (Valerio Binasco) and two little sisters in an isolated house with bolted windows. Because of an alleged “solar explosion” that occurred years before, the father is the only one able to leave the house. But his version of the truth seems to hide a huge lie.

Right off the bat, the general premise is nothing new. We saw something similar in 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE, and even in UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT. Much older examples can also be found of stories about bunkers and what may – or may not – be outside. But the real test of a film is not its premise but where it goes from there. Fiction is reliant on its tropes, its subgenres and how each new storyteller subverts them.

What makes DARKNESS stand out is that the twist or big reveal is not saved for the very end, but an integral part of the plot. One of the daughters “escapes” early on and sees the truth firsthand. How she reacts to this and what she tells her sisters is what makes this story unique. Unfortunately, the purposes of avoiding spoilers, we cannot discuss the cleverness of her reactions.

Some of the visuals really jump out. The final shots (over the end credits) are actually the best in the whole film, and show the technical prowess and “eye” of those involved. But what is the very best thing are the paintings between scenes. Are these the work of Nicoletta Ceccoli? I believe so, and getting her involvement was a stroke of genius.

DARKNESS is not the sort of film that is ground-breaking, but is more of the type of film where you appreciate the slight quirks. While no one will say this is their favorite film playing at Nightstream film festival, surely no one would speak ill of it, either.

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