Dark Circles (2013) – Review

You know something is wrong with a horror movie when the single interesting feature of it is an adorable little baby.

Starting off as a usual psychological thriller with a few touches of paranormal, Dark Circles tells the story of a family who moves into a secluded house in search of calm, away from the city madness. Alex (Johnathon Schaech) and his wife Penny (Pell James) decide to take their newborn son and move to the countryside where they can raise him peacefully.

As it usually goes in such movies featuring haunted houses, Penny – because it’s always the woman who notices the first paranormal signs – starts to feel a weird presence in the house. Adding to that the lack of sleep due to daily construction works near their house, exhaustion and fear start to take over her and her husband, a promising musician who struggles to find inspiration for his music in the middle of nowhere. Of course, the newborn baby doesn’t make things easier, as his constant crying doesn’t let the parents rest.

The physical and mental exhaustion is a crucial element in Dark Circles, hence the extensive mention. Ironically the peace and solace they were looking for in the first place appears to be a far distant luxury and soon they’ll realize that there are bigger problems than not being able to sleep.

The figure of a creepy woman that lurks in the house and haunts their dreams will drive them crazy and eventually turn them against each other.

As I mentioned before, a lot of clichés make an appearance in Dark Circles. Mirrors reflect the ghost of a woman who immediately disappears when the protagonists turn around; they look through the window and see a dark figure staring at them; the baby is the center of the ghost’s attention, which clearly leads to the conclusion that we’re seeing a troubled and tragic figure of a mother.

However, there is one twist in the plot that the viewers might not see coming. That twist is revealed near the ending though, and I’m not sure if it’s worth it in the end. As far as the setting is concerned, there are no surprises there; Big house in the woods, no one around and hints of a haunting presence. Director Paul Soter tried really hard to create a suspenseful and eerie atmosphere, but the loyal fans of the genre won’t see anything they haven’t seen before and that’s certainly a mood killer.

And to quote Joe E. Brown in Some Like it Hot: Well, nobody’s perfect. Neither is Dark Circles. 5/10

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