Back home where bland hor­ror waits

Los Angeles Times - - AT THE MOVIES - — Noel Mur­ray

The haunted house thriller “Dark­ness Ris­ing” is the lat­est in a re­cent wave of hor­ror films that root su­per­nat­u­ral ter­ror in real child­hood trauma.

Vet­eran TV di­rec­tor Austin Read­ing, ac­com­plished genre screen­writer Vikram Weet, and a well­trav­eled cast all make this pic­ture a smoother ride than most — though in a way that makes it feel only more re­dun­dant.

Tara Holt stars as Madi­son, a young woman who re­turns to her slated-for-de­mo­li­tion child­hood home, where 25 years ago her mother tried to kill her (and did kill Madi­son’s sis­ter). Al­most as soon as she ar­rives with her boyfriend, Jake (Bryce John­son), and her cousin Izzy (Ka­t­rina Law), the three be­gin ex­pe­ri­enc­ing eerie phe­nom­ena that may ex­plain what hap­pened a quar­ter-cen­tury ago — pro­vided they sur­vive long enough to find out.

“Dark­ness Ris­ing” fea­tures some imag­i­na­tive ef­fects, a few stand­out scenes (in­clud­ing a gen­uinely har­row­ing f lash­back to the mur­ders), and an en­ter­tain­ingly cranky sup­port­ing per­for­mance by Law.

Weet tries to in­vest a com­mon hor­ror premise with some orig­i­nal mythol­ogy, but un­like films that risk dis­turb­ing au­di­ences by ty­ing ghosts to abuse, “Dark­ness Ris­ing” treats Madi­son’s past more as a puzzle to be solved, which drains it of some pri­mal power. That — cou­pled with some fairly rou­tine jump-scares — ul­ti­mately makes this movie as blandly for­get­table as its ti­tle.

“Dark­ness Ris­ing.” Not rated. Run­ning time: 1 hour, 21 min­utes. Play­ing: Arena Cinelounge Sun­set, Hol­ly­wood.

IFC Mid­night

MADI­SON (Tara Holt) and Jake (Bryce John­son) in a haunted-house tale with a few stand­out scenes.

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