Welcome to the Darkness (2023) – review

I’m not the most enlightened individual when it comes to music. My tastes still linger around a couple of songs I was exposed to as a child; namely Love Shack and Electric Blue. When it comes to music today, I can say with confidence that I’m aware it exists.

Available to rent and buy from January 24th, the documentary feature, Welcome to the Darkness, charts the rapid rise and fall of the UK glam rock band, The Darkness, and their gradual return to mainstream popularity over recent years, ultimately becoming a portrait of forgiveness and reflection.

This is not Spinal Tap, but I think it’s safe to say that the classic mockumentary had some influence over the narrative presented by Welcome to the Darkness director Simon Emmett. While it’s not entirely free of cliché, the story of The Darkness comes with a great deal of candidness and personal insight that I doubt audiences would normally expect from a band of their nature. What struck me the most was the band’s steadfast dignity and lack of ego during their years in “exile”. Even the most underwhelming venues, such as a pub in rural Ireland, are treated positively by the group; as another opportunity to slowly re-enter the spotlight and to reach their loyal fanbase by doing what they love, rather than with contempt.

Justin Hawkins is the film’s central figure and if you’re like me, completely unfamiliar with The Darkness, you’ll probably at least recognize his iconic chorus vocals from the band’s mega-hit, “I Believe in a Thing Called Love.” The talented musician is a bonified rock star in both personality and appearance, and he’s travelled the same rocky road as his contemporaries and lived to tell the tale. Today, Justin certainly hasn’t lost his flare as an artist but has embraced maturity in middle-age which helps him to deal with a prognosis that may end his professional career. Hawkins’ brother, Dan, guitarist and backing singer, has a wise quality about him despite being a year younger, which doesn’t counter nor diminish Justin’s personality or attitude, but together, the two bring a lot of the emotional weight that makes this documentary such a moving experience.

Time has served The Darkness well, and now, with music’s new landscape, carved out by platforms like Spotify, all musical acts can enjoy a co-existence with equal exposure. Gone are the days when ‘One-Hit-Wonders’ slipped into obscurity never to be heard from again!

Welcome to the Darkness is released through Lightbulb Film Distribution and you can find it via major digital platforms, Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video and Google Play in Australia and New Zealand. Many thanks to Walkden Entertainment (Walkden Publicity) for the opportunity to watch and review this feature ahead of its release.

(2023, director: Simon Emmett)



stills courtesy of Walkden Entertainment  



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