Darklight: A Perfectly Dreadful Movie

Title: Darklight
Stars: Richard Burgi, John DeLancie, David Hewlitt, Sherri Appleby
Official Website: Sci Fi | Darklight

my husband David recorded this movie because John DeLancie was in it. We always, always enjoy his work, so I thought “How bad could it be?” and sat down to watch with him. There was some sort of incomprehensible pre-show sequence about a demon or woman that walks up out of a swampy place all nekkid and covered with goo, and some guys sitting around in a futuristic chapel being told that their sacrifice was for the good of mankind before they get sent off to their doom fighting the demon. I was microwaving pizza at the time, and couldn’t really hear how bad the dialogue and sound were.

David offered to re-start, but I figured I’d catch up quickly enough. Right.

Turns out the movie’s story, plot and characters were so screwed up, no amount of cribbing, notes, or pre-show exposition would have helped make sense of it.

It started out well enough – nice titles. David Hewlitt of Atlantis (he plays crabby, snide, brilliant Dr. McKay) was in it, and he’s a new favorite of mine, so I settled in with my pizza.

Oh, well. There was much scenery chewed. There was something about capturing a female demon and keeping her looking human with pellets of plant stuff that make her forget her demonity. Something else about purifying the demon DNA “strain” and injecting it into the eyes of a very pissed-off David Hewlitt, who played a scientist with a grudge against the corporation that done him wrong – now he’s some sort of independent contractor for a faith-based secret clandestine apocalyptic demon fighting club. Something else about the corporation going public with an immortality treatment. And then David Hewlitt made somebody shoot him to show he was immortal, went apeshit, and turned into one of the demon things (who apparently is wearing tiny crispy little black bike shorts). He runs off to kill people from his old company at press conferences, because he’s got a grudge that they based their so-called breakthrough on his secret work for the cult. Meanwhile, the secret society, which seemed to be based more on the Kabbala than anything else, didn’t realize that their #2 man, John DeLancie, had his own agenda and was the one egging David Hewlitt on and having the demon he turned into do his bidding. Turns out they’ve been extracting stuff from the demon and working on it. The demon romps around killing people and entire S.W.A.T teams (David and I started singing “Da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da, da-daaaa” to make them feel better about rushing in to their doom). And then there were the beginnings of a horrible plague, carried by the demon in his brain and delivered by the longest, scaliest tongue in the universe. The government haplessly failed to protect the top scientist for the corporation, but by then the amnesiac girl, that used to be a demon but doesn’t remember how, had been trained by Richard Burgi. There was some rock music and posing when she’d remember how to burn up like a phoenix, turn black and scaly, and pretty much look like a low-rent X-men ripoff. There was a break after a mid-movie battle scene where the good demon and the bad demon fight. Both are so very badly rendered in CGI it’s hard to tell which one is the real loser, but the good-girl demon slashes the bad-boy demon’s tummy, and off he runs howling and the scientist is saved. Suddenly, David Hewlitt’s human again, lying on a table in the lab at his old workplace and is very crabby and irritable about the big slash in his tummy, and makes a former cow-orker stitch up his guts. He needs another infusion of the girl demon’s power, which is called Dark Light. She comes by it naturally, so though she can hurt him, he can only hurt her so long as he doesn’t lose his mojo. But darn it, they’re fresh out of mojo at the lab, so he has to capture her and Burgi and there’s a long involved wrangle between them and DeLancie, while Hewlitt watches on a monitor and gets mighty steamed to hear that DeLancie’s using him as a pawn. This doesn’t stop him from wanting to turn back into a demon again and do his master’s bidding. Maybe it’s the little pants that he likes best about being a big flying scaly demon. And the instant crispy buffness.

One thing that struck me funny was that every time David Hewlitt (who I like, by the way) is on screen, his shirt’s open all the way – for no damn reason other than “Hey, Burgi won’t do it, let’s see if Hewlitt will run around with his shirt half open.”

I didn’t mind too much, but my husband David (my husband) thought that Hewlitt was pretty un-buff for all the screen time he had showing his chest, or with his shirt completely off. I will admit this, but he was un-buff in a very normal and rather endearingly vulnerable way. When he becomes the demon, he becomes uber-buff. Perhaps this is also part of his character’s motivation.

That reminds me: after his scenery-chewing transformation scene when he turns into the male demon, he turns human again, with the same clothes as before, and in fact with his shirt open all the way. Huh? Same with the girl – she doesn’t have the Hulk’s problem with wardrobe at all. Meanwhile, the horrible Red Plague, which is apparently much, much worse than the Black Plague, is turning people into crusty red and black mounds of goo. But first, they turn into festering zombies, who go around going “raaar! Raaaar!” and are used by DeLancie to kill enemies slowly enough that they can figure out how to escape and survive to the next reel. Kind of like sharks with frickin’ laser beams, see? So there were battles, people changed back and forth into demons, people got turned into goo, DeLancie has a few scary philosophical discussions about how he’s forcing the Creator’s hand, and so on. Oh, and there’s a kryptonite maneuver, too – some sort of plant or root from the Garden of Eden that is the only thing that can harm or render powerless the girl demon, who is identified as Lilith, who’s spent eternity living in a cave in British Columbia, eating warriors and their kids that happen by during a school field trip/demon hunting expedition. That’s how Burgi’s kid bought it in a flashback, which is why he hates the girl demon, but has to work with her to show her the ropes on how to be a demon again and defeat the boy demon.

Let’s recap, shall we? No, is too long. I sum up.

Girl demon gets all Buffy on the bad guy’s ass, and defeats boy demon by removing his head with the edge of a metal barrel lid that she’s lit up with her Darklight mojo. Brain is thus available for the scientists back at the corporate lab to isolate virus and create an antidote and cure in about 15 seconds’ worth of exposition. The world is saved! The girl demon becomes a winsome little girl waif again and may or may not keep working with Burgi’s shadowy faith-based secret society. She’s a lone wolfess, so she rides off all waifish reluctant-herolike on her motorcycle. The picture ends with a very Highlanderish voiceover, not neglecting the echo effect, stating her ambiguous feelings about being the new Buffy. David and I state our ambiguous feelings about the movie, which pretty much are “meh” and “failed pilot, thank God” respectively.

Neither of us could figure out why DeLancie was caught dead in this turkey, other than it was a decent paycheck. I figure some of Burgi’s money was in it, too – he may have been hoping for some more home-town work since The Sentinel has been gone for a while. I think Hewlitt was in it because it was near home and he’s kind of the go-to guy for low-budget SF movies lately – he’s good at playing irritable scientist types, good or evil.

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