Monday, May 03, 2021

Vamp or Not? The Darkness

The Darkness is a 2020 film directed and written by Tharun Mohan and truth be told I am looking at it by accident. You see I had seen the trailer and there is a moment that looked as though a character was in a coffin, throat slit and staked. Now, although the trailer was clear that there were themes of witchcraft and changelings, I thought that at the very least there would have been a use of tropes with the stake used to hold a character in the earth.

I was offered access to a screener and accepted on that basis, to discover that I had mis-seen the scene. The character is, indeed, in a coffin and their throat is slit but they hold a rose to their chest. As you know, the blog deals exclusively with vampire material but I had also given my word that I’d do an article. However, the film does have aspects of the restless dead and I decided that a ‘Vamp or Not?’ would be the fairest way of looking at the film.

the decayed finger 

The film begins in, what feels like the 19th Century (or early 20th century) and we see a bell – it is the surface bell of a safety coffin. We move below the earth and see a decayed finger with the bell pull attached to the finger. It moves and the bell rings. Brian (Adam Bond) rushes to the grave shouting to his mother that *she* is back. He gets into the grave but something pulls him in. At the same time, we see through a window into the house and see a figure move behind the mother.

Lisa and David

In a car Lisa (Amelia Eve) awakens suddenly. She and her partner David (Cyril Blake) are going to a house that has been in his family for years but he has only just found out about. He seems quite work focused; she is an author who has written and published her first book but is struggling to move on to the second. The house, of course, is the one from the prologue. It is remote and there is no wifi or phone signal.

Katherine Hartshorne as Niav

Almost from the get go there is strangeness afoot, with Lisa particularly nervous (and having the dream of herself in the coffin that I had noted in the trailer.) She then finds a diary in the attic written by Niav O'Connor (Katherine Hartshorne) – Brian’s wife… except a local historian has no record of Niav only of a wife called Mary who mysteriously vanished a year before he went missing. The diary, however, has intrigued Lisa who thinks it might be the basis for her next novel.

gluttonous eating

The film follows two paths – with the nineteenth century one showing us Niav’s story and involving fairy folk, witches and changelings. The modern one sees Lisa changing as the spirit in the house takes possession of her. It is all a case of unfinished business but – trying to not spoil anything – we have seen the corpse of Mary move and there is a hunger passed to Lisa when she is possessed – manifesting itself in gluttonous eating of food. This gluttony would fit in with some of the restless dead folklore.

blood tear

Ultimately there is spirit possession in the present day, which manifests as personality change and the gluttony I’ve mentioned, along with eye colour change and levitation. Essentially it is aimed at finishing the unfinished business. In the nineteenth century section we have a wider bag of stuff – we have witches, a faery cave and blood sacrifice to attempt to resurrect the dead. We do get a random blood tear at one point. The movement of the finger and what then happened to Brian suggests a degree of restless dead (which was frustratingly under explored) but there isn’t really a vampiric element to it. An unusual mix of themes but ultimately not vamp.

The imdb page is here.

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