The Darkness

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Darkness Movie Poster Image
Interesting characters but lackluster scares.
  • PG-13
  • 2016
  • 92 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie briefly addresses (but doesn't dig very deep into) topics including bulimia, autism, alcoholism, and infidelity. It also acknowledges the existence of non-white cultures, but in a fairly surface (and arguably stereotypical) way.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters seem to try hard to fix family problems while facing their own personal crises, but they're all fairly flawed and not fully three-dimensional.


Creepy scenes and jump scares. A room with (presumably) blood smeared in patterns all over the walls and ceiling. A dog attacks a teen girl, leaving bloody marks on her arm. Small cuts from flying glass shards. Siblings fight. Mom and daughter figh. Fire in a house.


Teen girl in the shower (nothing sensitive shown). A shirtless man repeatedly kisses his wife in bed, presumably trying to initiate sex, but they're interrupted. Married man flirts with other women (a past affair is discussed).


One use of "f--k," plus a few uses of "s--t," "piss," "hell," and "damn."


Apple iPhone used as flashlight. Absolut vodka.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A main character is described as an alcoholic. She buys two bottles of vodka; later the bottle is shown half empty. Characters head to the bar while in a restaurant. Characters prepare to drink alcohol while camping.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Darkness is a horror movie about Native American ghosts that haunt a Caucasian autistic boy and his family, a cultural dynamic that may not sit well with all viewers. There are plenty of jump scares, as well as some blood. A room is covered with red-smeared designs on the walls and ceiling (presumably blood, but that's not certain). Family members argue, and a wall catches on fire. A married couple kisses in bed, a teen girl is shown taking a shower (no sensitive nudity), and there's flirting and talk of a husband's past infidelity. A woman's alcoholism is discussed; she buys vodka, and the bottles are shown half empty, but viewers never see her (or anyone else) actually drinking. Language includes a use of "f--k" and a couple of uses of "s--t."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJanise M April 4, 2017

Great for good scare but doesn't send good messages at times

My main concern was there's a teen girl with body image issues and starts to induce vomiting so I had to fast forward on that scene so my daughter wouldn... Continue reading
Adult Written byherman h. October 2, 2017

no native amercian actors ?

So this movie gets an asian actress to play a spanish lady who is suppose to have knowledge about native amercians?
Ming Na wen - really?
When will hollywood st... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bySamN1230 October 28, 2020

Super fun... to make fun of.

This movie was the worst horror movie I’ve ever seen. The scares are terrible, and the logic of this movie is so bad. Here are some examples.

1) They leave a d... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bybobbyc47275 July 4, 2016

Kevin Bacon Is A Better Actor

This movie was ok I guess but it had some language and a little bit of sexual content in this movie. It has one "f" word which can be heard clear as d... Continue reading

What's the story?

During a camping trip with family friends, autistic boy Mike (David Mazouz) falls into a strange chamber and finds five stones carved with images of a buffalo, snake, wolf, coyote, and crow. Back home, with his mom, Bronny (Radha Mitchell); dad, Peter (Kevin Bacon); and older sister, Stephanie (Lucy Fry), strange things begin happening. Mike starts talking to an "imaginary friend," Jenny. Locked doors suddenly open, and a neighbor's dog barks incessantly. As the malevolent forces become stronger, and the family seems to be falling apart at the seams, the time comes to call in an expert (Alma Martinez) to help cleanse the house. But whatever evil Mike has awakened seems to have other plans.

Is it any good?

Oddly, this well-cast horror movie is more interesting for its family drama than for its scares. It might almost be worth seeing, if not for the nonsensical story, jump scares, and other lazy stuff. Bacon and Mitchell lead an able cast, filling out likably human characters who are flawed but not stupid and try hard to fix things. The family's confrontations -- over drinking, infidelity, bulimia, and autism -- are much more engaging than the strangely flat ghost story.

Directed by Greg McLean (known in horror circles for Wolf Creek), THE DARKNESS often feels like things were left out or simply never added. It addresses the existence of other cultures -- Native American ghosts, a Latina ghost hunter (and an Asian woman who believes in her) -- but only as surface dressing. Ultimately, it's never clear what the story actually is, who these ghosts are, or what will make them go away. They can't even manage anything other than making loud noises to get everyone jumping.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Darkness's violence. How much is shown, and how much is hinted at? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • Is the movie scary? Does more violence make a movie scarier? What's the appeal of scary movies?

  • How does the movie represent non-white cultures? Are they superficial, or do they go deeper? What message does that send?

  • What is bulimia? What is its relationship to body image? Does the movie handle the condition realistically?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scares

Themes & Topics

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