A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that In Darkness is a thriller co-written by and starring Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games). It's very violent, with gruesome deaths and blood. The main character, who's blind, is threatened, captured, chained up, and tortured. Viewers will see guns and shooting, stabbing, fighting, and an autopsy scene; there are also verbal references to rape and other iffy stuff. There's a fairly graphic sex scene, and the main character is topless in two scenes. Another female character dresses in a way that shows lots of cleavage. Language is pretty infrequent, with just a couple of uses of "f--k" and one "bitch." There's some social drinking and a mention of lithium use. Though the movie starts strong and Dormer is good, the story leaves a lot to be desired.
What's the story?
IN DARKNESS introduces viewers to Sofia (Natalie Dormer), a blind pianist in London who's working on the score of a horror movie. She returns home from work and runs into her upstairs neighbor, Veronique (Emily Ratajkowski). Later, Sofia hears a struggle and then Veronique plunging out the window onto the pavement below. Meanwhile, Sofia has already agreed to play at a party for Veronique's father, Zoran Radic (Jan Bijvoet), a Serbian businessman accused of war crimes. There she encounters the sinister Radic and the prickly, intense Alex (Joely Richardson), as well as Marc (Ed Skrein), who was Veronique's lover. She learns that these three are after a USB drive, which Veronique has hidden somewhere in their apartment building. As danger closes in around her, Sofia begins to reveal her own dark secrets.
Is it any good?
This thriller starts well and has worthy elements -- especially a strong female character, co-created by Dormer herself -- but the plot eventually becomes needlessly stretched-out and convoluted. The setup of In Darkness is deliciously Hitchcockian, playing up the sounds around Sofia and crisscrossing what she sees with what the audience can see. Perhaps if it had remained a minimalist story, staying in the apartment -- like the Audrey Hepburn thriller Wait Until Dark -- it might have gone somewhere interesting.
But the more the story gets into espionage and USB drives and passwords and secret pasts, the more it trips itself up. Each new twist comes at the expense of what came before it, and it becomes clear that all this trouble could have been avoided if characters had merely acted earlier. Director/co-writer Anthony Byrne starts strong, with a bustling, daunting vision of a busy, glass-and-steel London, but he eventually gets lost in showdowns and tense car rides. Skrein is chronically uninteresting, and Dormer is cool, but only Richardson looks like she's having any fun.
Talk to your kids about ...
How is sex portrayed here? Is it necessary to the story or gratuitous? What's the difference?
Is Sofia a role model? What are her strengths? Her drawbacks?
How is blindness portrayed in the movie? Is it seen as a drawback? What are the positive qualities?
How did you feel about the main character's deception? Is she less appealing for lying or more appealing for being clever? What's the difference?