Austin Reading’s horror movie “Darkness Rising” has the makings of a solid haunted-house story: creepy ghosts, maniacal dogs, nightmare-inducing dolls, demonic possession, cursed artifacts and a splattering of blood for good measure. However, tossing these ingredients together does not guarantee a decent scare.
Still grieving the murder of her baby sister by her mother, Madison (Katrina Law) returns to her abandoned family home with her cousin (Tara Holt) and fiancé (Bryce Johnson) before the building is demolished. None of them knows that the evil spirit that had possessed Madison’s mother would remain, setting the stage for deadly consequences.
Reading and the screenwriter, Vikram Weet, channel the likes of the original “Evil Dead” and “The Amityville Horror” in this story, but there are almost too many references to other movies for this one to become its own monster.
Although the script is stuffed with eerie objects and happenings, there is a sense of restraint that keeps “Darkness Rising” from becoming frightening. The cinematography seems static and distant, not so much trapped in a house of evil spirits as it is stifled by the space.
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The devil is missing from the details, like the lack of dust and cobwebs in the dilapidated house or of bloody footprints after the mother walks on a wounded foot. Even when characters endure increasingly cruel scenarios, the movie feels deadly stiff.
(At Screenland Tapcade.)
Not rated. Time: 1:21.