This Darkness (2003)

SEPTEMBER 24, 2008


You know my situation is dire if I am dipping into the incredibly aptly named Decrepit Crypt set. Since I had no time to watch a film before work, and as of this writing (10:30 pm) I am still AT work, I had no choice but This Darkness. Usually I can’t watch Decrepit movies at work due to the nudity they always revel in, but it’s so late that everyone else has gone home (except of course, for the people who are slacking and thus keeping me here, but they work in a different office), I figured I'd be OK. And I had nothing else that I would even consider horror.

While slightly more competent on a technical level than most of the other DC movies, this one is ultimately just as bad as the others. There are a couple reasons for this. One is the insane length. 107 minutes is fine if it’s wall to wall action, or a complex story, but this is just yet another “science makes vampires” story, and a very boring one at that. Our hero is a descendant of Van Helsing (somehow I don’t think they cleared those rights) who has people call him “Van” (fuck you) who has accidentally created a new vampire strand that allows them to be in the sunlight. Fine, but around 90 minutes of the movie is about other crap, like a kid who wants to buy a surfboard, a drummer at odds with his former band, a little girl learning her multiplication tables, etc. There are also long extensions to scenes that seem more like the actors goofing off than the characters improvising, such as during an already lengthy “training” montage when our hero begins whacking a training dummy with a broom over and over. If anyone with any sort of sense had edited this film, it would be roughly 34 minutes long at best.

Another problem is the atrocious acting of the lead, one Dylan O’Leary. Normally I wouldn’t care too much, but since he’s also the writer/director, I think it’s just an ego trip. There are about 3 too many good guys anyway, why not just take one out of the script, use that actor as the lead, and focus more on the directing? You’d be taking care of three problems at once: the length, the terrible lead, and the direction that made it incredibly hard to tell how much time had passed in between scenes.

Not helping matters in this department is the abysmal continuity. Either the main character is an obsessive compulsive who needs to change his clothes every 5 minutes, or O’Leary wasn’t paying any goddamn attention. I was under the impression that a couple weeks had gone by, and then halfway through the film a character points out that his friend, killed in the opening scene, has only been missing a day.

Luckily, there is the occasional terrible line of dialogue to amuse you. When flirting with the hero, a fellow scientist says “Oh, I love chains... DNA and all!” Another howler comes during the finale, when the villain reveals “I’ve killed dinosaurs....” Yay for Creationism!

Oh, and the hero fucks a woman half his age who somehow turns out to be his mom. It’s too baffling to be hot, but it’s better than nothing.

Like I said early on, it’s technically OK at least. DP John McLeod clearly has at least a basic understanding of blocking and things like that, and the audio is never muffled or coming out in wildly different levels. The gore, while pretty rare (as is the nudity – it’s the least gratuitous of the DC films yet, which is ironic because it’s the one that could have benefited the most from those elements), is also decent. The blood looks like blood, not Kool-Aid, so they got something on Zombie Town anyway.

Unlike the last DC movie I watched (Burning Dead), this one has an IMDb page. Like all indies, half of the comments come from friends and family (and O’Leary himself), praising the film and neglecting to point out any of its flaws. However, 2 of them are from angry crew members who apparently weren’t credited, which is pretty unique. One woman is particularly bitter about not having her name alongside all the other names no one will actually care about besides the other people in the movie. It reminded me of this time in college when I was a featured extra in a student film, and before I watched it, the director told me he forgot to put my name in with all the others. I was initially bummed, but then I watched it, and instead thanked Christ that my good (pfft) name wasn’t sullied by that piece of crap. Thus, I remain proud of my entire IMDb filmography (another student film).

Like me, O’Leary has no other credits to his name as of yet, but there is some hope for him. As long as he stays behind the camera and hires a better editor, I think he could definitely make a worthwhile no-budgeter on the level of Dead 7 at least. I only ask that if his sophomore film once again involves incest that he takes the time to make it A. hot and B. an actual plot point. His character never seems even weirded out by the fact that he totally fucked his mom. Come on man, it’s not like you have an aversion to slowing the movie down.

What say you?


  1. You liked it a lot better than I did. The interminable sequences at the dojo (the guy who owned it had to be putting up the money for the film), the cringe-inducing lecture sequence...just horrible.

  2. Well whenever I sit down with one of these, I expect the absolute worst. Plus, I have to at least somewhat appreciate making a nearly 2 hr film for no money. I remember how much of a pain it was to get just 3 people together to shoot back when I was in film school, so to assemble a dozen or so friends/family is pretty impressive on its own.

  3. I just 'revisited' this nightmare... I saw it originally when Dylan 'released' it here in Pensacola... That was my main interest in it since I live here... I think I even contacted him about helping on it but he never returned my email. I'm not bitter, though... I would say that I could've helped in the editing dept. but the script was worse than the editing job (O'Leary supposedly has a degree in screenwriting but it appears as though he knows nothing about storytelling or dialogue or pacing or extraneous exposition or... you get the idea)... I don't think Charlie Kaufman or QT could've fixed this script... It's basically a glorified home movie... I do appreciate the effort, though, that was put into getting an entire film made and distributed but the only movies that I have seen worse than this one was Scouts (also made by O'Leary that might be worse than This Darkness... A kids' movie except for the gratuitous nudity midway through... to get distribution I guess) and yet another Pensacola movie: Sharkman. I think some of the makers of Sharkman were actually in This Darkness (This Darkness is like Schindler's List compared to Sharkman...)... I watched This darkness again a little while ago (because I'm a glutton for punishment) and it brought back a few silly memories when I saw it in its original' theatrical' release (one hometown theater). I think I was the only person viewing it that had not participated in the movie in some way. Everyone kept looking at me like I was interrupting for being there as an outsider and maybe I was (Same went for Scouts). I do try to support the home team though....

  4. I can't call this an excuse for the director, but in speaking with Dylan O'Leary he told me that in the distribution deal (a bad one if you ask me) the distributor got final edit. Dylan said when he watched a copy rented from Hollywood Video he discovered that it had been re-edited quite a bit. For example I think there is a shower scene that was moved from the middle to the beginging as a "hook" to keep the viewer watching the rest of the film. I think this is a good object lesson for aspiring film makers!


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