There is a really excellent movie starring Kevin Bacon called Cop Car, which is an indie thriller about a corrupt cop and a couple of punk kids. It’s a really tight, tense movie that doesn’t go in the direction you think it will. It’s very atmospheric, very effective. I recommend Cop Car highly. You can stream it on Amazon Video or rent it on iTunes. It will cost you about half of one ticket to Kevin Bacon’s new horror movie, The Darkness. “Horror” and “thriller” are not the same genre but they’re close enough that one can substitute for the other, and Cop Car is so superior to The Darkness in every way that you’re really better off watching it than The Darkness. Although to be fair, you’re better off shaving your junk with a rusty razor than watching The Darkness.

Bacon stars as Peter, the douchebag dad of a dumb family you will never in a million years care about. He’s married to Bronny—BRONNY, THAT IS HER NAME—who is played by Radha Mitchell. (Another substitution recommendation: Watch The Crazies remake starring Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell instead, it’s exactly the kind of solid B-movie The Darkness is trying and failing to be.) They have two children, Stephanie (Lucy Fry, Vampire Academy—girl, get a new agent) and Mikey (David Mazouz, Gotham). Stephanie and Mikey both need therapy but their issues are blamed on demons so f*ck productive coping mechanisms.

On a trip to the Grand Canyon Mikey picks up a rock and brings it home and the family is immediately beset by demonic Native American poltergeists because the purloined rock is tied to a totally bunk Anasazi legend about demons sucking children into “the Darkness”. The Mystical Native stereotyping is obnoxious but what’s really infuriating is that the magic Native demons are totally lame. Their powers are limited to things like dirtying the walls and causing domestic strife, aka, classic ploys for attention from troubled children with inattentive, borderline neglectful parents. The Darkness is really about a broken, dysfunctional family and the spirits tied to Mikey’s pet rock are just trying to open a portal to get the f*ck away from white suburban melodrama.

But the offensive stereotyping doesn’t end there! Stephanie is bulimic and she collects her puke in jars like Calista Flockhart in that one after school special about eating disorders. The implication seems to be that the evil Natives possessing the house are making her do it but it also looks like she’s been at it for a while so I think that Stephanie really just needs professional help but her asshole mother is like, “Nope, demons!”

Mikey, meanwhile, has some undefined form of Autism Spectrum Disorder and this enables him to see demons and ghosts and sh*t, and in one scene the internet tells BRONNY that autistic children are sensitive to supernatural events because autism=witchcraft in this world. This is exactly what the autistic community needs, to go back to 1657 when anyone the least bit different was regarded with suspicion and accusations of witchcraft. I don’t even know why Mikey had to be autistic in the first place, because “kid communing with ghosts” is a standard, accepted trope of horror cinema. He could just be a kid who talks to ghosts and the movie is exactly the same.

It is baffling how bad The Darkness is. The director, Greg McLean, made the solid Australian horror film Wolf Creek—which is another movie you can watch instead of The Darkness—but none of the ability he demonstrated with that movie is on display here. This is a boring, by the numbers horror film that is never even for one second scary. Revelations come from Youtube videos—there is no more unexciting method of exposition—and the movie is a bargain bin of offensive stereotyping.