Danny Trejo’s up to no good again. He’s swapped his machete for a poetic turn of phrase and an army of homeless people. Well, I say ‘army’, that’s not quite possible for this budget but there’s a handful of them and they’re terribly good at scowling in tunnels.
DARKNESS DESCENDS is a real mixture. It has a fun idea (an underclass beneath New York, some of whom have their hearts set on revolution), it’s shot well, and some of the cast deliver solid, believable performances (a special wave to Michael Rene Walton). The film drops the odd moment of faked documentary footage into the mix, characters talking directly to camera as part of the fictional film that drags journalist, Chelsea (Phillipps) into the action. All of which helps to build the world we’re inhabiting.
Where it stumbles is in doubling this material up with a more conventional and predictable narrative, the cop who has gone off the rails after the death of his wife (can it possibly be the villain of the piece that killed her? OF COURSE IT CAN). The dialogue here is hokey and cumbersome and threatens to break the verisimilitude with every overcooked moment.
Two underclass cultures at war with one another has dramatic potential, such a shame that the movie seems to suffer from the same internecine troubles.