The short film from which this gimmicky film was spawned was suitably chilling. The impasse is that viral video wasn’t protracted to feature length. Amateur filmmaker David F. Sandberg squanders his central conceit of a demon who feeds off of the darkness. The goofy superhero-origin backstory about how a mental patient was tortured by her experimental doctors and later, transmogrified into am illumination-based creature is reiterated ad nauseam in order to extend the 81-minute runtime.
The legend of the lanky Diana (Alicia Vela-Bailey) is recapped by the commitment-phobic Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) and then there is a superfluous flashback to her childhood with Diana jeopardizing her life inside a closet. The kernel of the idea cannot sustain the running time of the film. Likewise, the more visible Diana is, the less goosebump-inducing she is.
The truly blood-curdling performance in the film is Maria Bello as the reclusive, distraught Sophie who will sacrifice her children out of loyalty to her omnipresent friend. When she suddenly darkens the living room lights, it’s genuinely unnerving how she tries to soothe her son Martin (Gabriel Bateman). Also, the rules established with Diana are wildly inconsistent. Diana has several opportunities to quell Rebecca and Martin but she twiddles around in another realm.
By the climax, Eric Heisserer has concocted multifarious methods to keep Diana at bay. It’s an inventive 20-minute sequence where the characters utilize car floodlights, ultraviolet lamps and muzzle flashes from police-issued pistols. Although by that juncture, it’s too little and far too late to be playful. Next time, Sandberg should consult with Blumhouse producer extraordinaire James Wan and how to amplify suspense with breadth.
Rating: 2.25 out of 5