Metascore
74

Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 36
  2. Negative: 1 out of 36
  1. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Feb 23, 2012
    100
    In Darkness is an extraordinary movie, and somehow good art creates its own uplift.
  2. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Feb 17, 2012
    100
    The reason we feel so close to Socha, a man who at first seems nothing more than a racist scoundrel, is that his moral odyssey, with its advances and retreats, is so emotionally believable.
  3. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Feb 15, 2012
    91
    The fine Polish director Agnieszka Holland (Europa Europa) pays her respects with a daringly murky-looking movie that demands viewers enter the void too and meet Socha and his Jews as real, flawed men and women behaving in flawed ways under suffocating conditions.
  4. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Dec 8, 2011
    88
    In Darkness is gloomy and hard to take for a running time of 145 minutes, but it's an important film, related with deep conviction, and uncompromising in its understanding of the remarkable things members of the human race have done - to, for, and against each other - in the wilderness of war.
  5. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Feb 15, 2012
    85
    The elephant in the room of any discussion of Poland and the Jews is that country's less-than-glorious record of betrayal and collaboration with the Nazis. Holland, who is half-Jewish and whose mother was active in the Polish Resistance, doesn't shrink from that legacy.
  6. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Mar 8, 2012
    83
    One of the great achievements of In Darkness, is in creating a sense of life in the sewers.
  7. Reviewed by: Tasha Robinson
    Feb 8, 2012
    83
    While In Darkness sticks to formula, it brings across that formula effectively.
  8. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Mar 16, 2012
    80
    There is release at the end of this fine film, but no euphoria; just a sense of having come through a period of evil, the memory of whose darkness will never entirely lift.
  9. Reviewed by: Paul Bradshaw
    Mar 16, 2012
    80
    The film never hides its uncomfortable truths in the shadows.
  10. Reviewed by: David Hughes
    Mar 12, 2012
    80
    Unlucky to miss out a Best Foreign Film Oscar, this moving war flick is a nerve-jangling odyssey into the underground world.
  11. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Feb 23, 2012
    80
    Wieckiewicz is outstanding, his open face expressing a full range of emotions, often within the same scene, sometimes within the same conversation.
  12. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Feb 9, 2012
    80
    What makes this nominee for the best-foreign-film Oscar singular among Holocaust movies is the way it characterizes the banality of life underground.
  13. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Feb 9, 2012
    80
    Transcending Holo-kitsch, In Darkness is often a thrilling adventure picture - as if Anne Frank had found an "Inglourious Basterd" to help her make "The Great Escape."
  14. 80
    In outline, In Darkness is a standard conversion melodrama, but little within those parameters is easy. The darkness lingers into the light.
  15. Reviewed by: Mark Keizer
    Jan 30, 2012
    80
    In Darkness takes its place among the many great European films to tackle the subject. Plenty of quality-seeking adult moviegoers will be lured to the arthouse and thoroughly moved.
  16. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Dec 8, 2011
    80
    In a world where everyone was looking for an angle, hoping to survive the nightmare and maybe even turn other people's misery into a tidy profit, the fact that a fragile humanity survived at all is little short of a miracle.
  17. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Dec 8, 2011
    80
    It's a transformation as wrenching to watch as it is vital to remember.
  18. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Nov 29, 2011
    80
    This story of suffering and almost inadvertent humanitarianism is harrowing, engrossing, claustrophobic and sometimes literally hard to watch.
  19. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Mar 14, 2012
    78
    Based on actual events, this claustrophobic epic is as emotional as they come: a Holocaust story shot through with a layer of darkness both literal and figurative
  20. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Mar 8, 2012
    75
    The movie also glows bright with life and hope, celebrating the innate human instinct to push onward and persevere, even in the face of incomprehensible evil.
  21. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Mar 1, 2012
    75
    The filmmaker, whose career took off with a very different sort of Holocaust film, 1990's Oscar-nominated "Europa Europa," understands that most of these stories arrive at a point of unspeakable, incomprehensible horror.
  22. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Mar 1, 2012
    75
    In Darkness is a disaster movie, and the disaster is the Holocaust. In the space between the two halves of that sentence, you have what works about the film and what's a little creepy.
  23. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Feb 17, 2012
    75
    Though the conclusion is foregone, Canadian screenwriter David F. Shamoon's script manages to extract suspense out of Poldek's ruthless, calculating nature.
  24. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Feb 10, 2012
    75
    In Darkness is an agonizing experience, especially when Jews are publicly humiliated in the streets and a driving rainstorm nearly drowns those cowering in the depths. Holland means to shake you. In Darkness has the power to haunt will haunt your dreams.
  25. Reviewed by: V.A. Musetto
    Dec 9, 2011
    75
    Holland has said that she wanted her harrowing and rewarding epic to run long so it would make viewers feel that they're in the sewers as well. In this, she succeeds.
  26. Reviewed by: J.R. Jones
    Feb 16, 2012
    70
    Robert Wieckiewicz is good as the conflicted protagonist, but the most valuable player here is cinematographer Jolanta Dylewska, who turns in handsome work even though most of the action transpires in inky blackness.
  27. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Feb 6, 2012
    70
    Watching the movie, you feel the constriction and the disgust of the life below, but Holland, pacing the film well, knows when to come up for air. Each time she does, the daylight seems like a benediction. [13 & 20 Feb. 2012, p 120]
  28. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Dec 8, 2011
    70
    It is suspenseful, horrifying and at times intensely moving. But the ease with which it elicits these responses from the audience feels more opportunistic than insightful.
  29. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Apr 4, 2012
    67
    At times the sewer dwellers don't appear worth saving, except for Socha's profiting. This can't be the filmmaker's intention but it's there.
  30. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Feb 8, 2012
    67
    Over time, Holland's approach pushes beyond despair and turns into a pure exercise in grim atmosphere, shifting from a story of staying alive to a closeup of a private hell.
  31. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Feb 15, 2012
    63
    In Darkness has the best of intentions, but is a boring dirge, lingering far too long in sewers and wringing as much righteousness as possible out of scenes so dimly lit, they border on obscurity.
  32. Reviewed by: David Fear
    Dec 6, 2011
    60
    You know the money-over-morality argument will eventually tilt toward righteousness, yet the film's turn toward charcoal-sketch notions of good and evil only fuels a simplistic view of historical tragedy in the worst sort of way.
  33. Reviewed by: Michelle Orange
    Feb 9, 2012
    55
    Rather than beginning with the assumption that there is no possibility of our coming to know that kind of suffering exactly and using imagination and insight to truly take us inside the Lvov Jews' plight, Holland makes the base conditions of their confinement a narrative as well as aesthetic priority. And frankly it's boring as shit.
  34. Reviewed by: Michael Atkinson
    Feb 7, 2012
    50
    Another break in the tension is the inescapable fact that every Holocaust movie, however hair-raising, essentially thrums the same self-sacrifice-versus-self-preservation chord. It's not fair, but there it is: We've been here before.
  35. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Feb 6, 2012
    50
    For the film to work, Holland needs audiences to connect as deeply with the trapped Jews as Socha eventually does. With the exception of the group's leader, movie-star handsome Mundek Margulies (German-born, internationally recognized Benno Furmann), the characters are flat as shadows.
  36. Reviewed by: Jaime N. Christley
    Feb 6, 2012
    12
    It's the rare film that should not introduce new story elements or characters past its first act. In Darkness, a garbage movie applying for unlimited credit on the most meager collateral, is that film.
User Score
7.2

Generally favorable reviews- based on 19 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 6
  2. Negative: 0 out of 6
  1. Apr 22, 2012
    8
    A taut thriller about a true story of a dozen jews hiding out in a sewage system under Warsaw in 1944-45. Their savior is a Catholic Pole who starts off as your usual anti semitic Polish peasant type yet develops, against his own fear and biases, into a true hero, warts and all. His motivation starts off as greed (they pay him in cash and jewelry) but grows from that to humanitarian concern, in part due to his more liberal wife. The characters are well developed and show an honest diversity of humans all dealing with imprisonment, terror, and starvation. A well crafted movie that tells itself without undue drama or pity. I'm not sure how well it will play out in Poland, a country well known for it's depravity and soullessness to it's own Jewish citizens. Full Review »
  2. Mar 10, 2012
    4
    In Darkness is aptly titled. This film is incredibly dark, both in a lighting sense and its subject matter. Based on the book, In the Sewers of Lvov: a Heroic Story of Survival from the Holocaust, In Darkness joins a long line of films which document Jewish ghettos during World War II. The story follows an individual group of Jews who evade the Nazis once the ghetto massacre begins. The group dug a hole from one of their small apartments which leads down into the murky mess of the Lvov, Poland sewers. The resident lord of the sewers is Lvovâ Full Review »
  3. Lyn
    May 26, 2013
    9
    Hmmm, I don't recall Anne Frank's group engaging in so much frantic sex while they were in hiding. But with so many angles of the Holocaust horrors having been covered in so many other dramas, I found this one different and gripping. The lead actor's extraordinarily expressive face fills us in on his emotional and moral journey; he starts out self-serving and mercenary, but becomes invested in the desperate people who depend on him. If you are interested in this period of history, "In Darkness" will be a worthwhile addition to what you know about it. Full Review »