Darkness Jaume Balaguero

Clearly, people of talent and conviction have crafted this horror opus involving a Spanish country home for the supernaturally unsound. It's not shoddy, it's not exploitative and it's not without aesthetic charm. Unfortunately it's also not scary, or for that matter credible. Anna Paquin stars as the recalcitrant daughter of parents (Iain Glen and Lena Olin) who force her to move to Spain (the other one, where nobody speaks Spanish) in order to claim a house. Predictably, father starts making like Jack Torrance, little brother starts getting mysterious bruises and strange paranormal phenomenon start popping up, with Paquin putting two and two together and being promptly ignored by everyone in authority. There's some slick production values and some nice fluid cinematography (kudos, Xavi Gimenez), but it can't hide the fact that there's very little new here — everything is set at the Amityville overlook, with some peeping Tom showing up in the form of string-pulling grandfather Giancarlo Giannini. What isn't ripped off is largely ridiculous, like when the devious mastermind reveals his absurdly convoluted master plan — not only is it not the big finish you're looking for, it doesn't even have the decency to make sense. The whole thing moves well and hangs together, but it is, as Stephen King once described The Shining, "a big, beautiful automobile with no engine in it." I don't know who will be more upset by the film, random filmgoers looking for a good time, or horror fans looking for superior thrills? Now offered in an "uncensored" edition that paints an un-frightening portrait of the censored version, with a brief, uninformative "making of" featurette (with the usual back-patting patter) and two trailers. (Alliance Atlantis)