Darkness review

Shelved by Miramax for three years, then severely edited to secure a PG-13 rating, Darkness was dumped in US cinemas on Christmas Day like a baby on a doorstep. Only contractual obligations can explain its surfacing on this side of the pond; its incoherent plotting and nonsensical dialogue bear all the hallmarks of a Harvey Scissorhands mauling.

No doubt picked up for its superficial similarities to The Others, Jaume Balaguero's haunted-house horror tells of an upscale American family who head off to Spain in search of tranquility. Fat chance: their new home has more ghouls than The Shining and it's not long before plucky teen Regina (Anna Paquin) is up to her neck in ghosts, live sacrifices and Satanic rituals.

That none of this is remotely scary is a given. What's really galling is how inept it is, lacking even the most rudimentary shocks or chills as it limps towards its laughable finale. Anna should have sent this one Paquin.

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