Brendan Fraser, speaking with a stammer (!), stars as Darkly Noon -- yes, that's the main character's name (the "Darkly" comes from 1 Corinthians 13:12; whatever, and since this movie can't get anything right, stupid Darkly stutters that his "M-ma and P-pa" randomly chose it from "s-second Corinthians 13:12"). Darkly, despite looking like he walked off the set of "Beverly Hills, 90210" (shelf hair -- with a silly "lock" hanging down on his forehead, and all -- like he wouldn't be all scraggly or have a beard or something) is very sheltered, because he grew up in a cult. At least, it's fairly obvious to anyone who knows anything about Waco that he's supposed to have come from something like that; however, again, since this isn't explained very well, Darkly and his dead Ma and Pa ultimately just end up looking like typical movie "religious zealots".
Anyhow -- one day, after his cult compound is destroyed and his parents killed dead, Darkly stumbles into the deep, dark, mysterious forest and collapses from exhaustion. Lucky for us (before he dies, too) he's discovered by a guy named "Jude" (Loren Dean), who for some reason takes Darkly to recover at this woman named Callie's house.
"Callie" (Ashley Judd), with her obviously-dyed blonde hair, skimpy outfits, and very visible armpit hair (because she's just such a wild beauty, like the forest!) learns that Darkly is all alone in the world now, and offers to let him stay in her guest house (or garage, or whatever it's supposed to be) for as long as he needs to (although she insists on calling him "Lee"). Naturally, Darkly falls in love with her; but since he's much too sheltered and shy to tell her, he just creepily watches her from afar and offers to help her fix her roof.
Darkly seems fine with all of this, at first -- but then Clay (Viggo Mortensen), Callie's true love (who's gratuitously mute, although he can whistle and grunt just fine) , returns from wherever he'd been, and uh-oh! How dare Callie love somebody other than Darkly!
Thus begins Darkly's "descent into madness". He starts voyeuristically peering through his garage/guest house window into Clay and Callie's window as they engage in steamy sex. Of course -- because this film isn't at all B-movie-ish -- Darkly "pleasures himself" while he spies. But apparently he feels very evil doing so; and as punishment, he begins to whip himself with barbed wire or something (I fast-forwarded through that part on Hulu because I hate blood). What a freak!
Shortly afterward, Darkly meets up with his old pal and rescuer, Jude (who's pretty much thankless, but otherwise the most "normal" character in this ridiculous mess). They share a "touching" scene where they bond over some egg-shaped thing that Jude claims is fossilized dinosaur "s^%*" (oddly enough, this silly scene features some of the best acting in the film; Fraser and Dean seem natural and like they're having fun, which fits the spirit of the scene -- it's Darkly's one truly happy moment!) and Jude promises to visit Darkly again soon.
That's when things get REALLY bizarre (but also, kind of hilarious, at least temporarily). First, Darkly falls asleep in the forest for some reason, then wakes up only to find himself gazing in wonder at...
A giant, silver, sequined boot floating down the river (with a crow perched lazily on top of it).
No, I'm not making that up. A giant, silver, sequined BOOT.
Darkly watches the giant silver boot float away, then goes tromping through the woods some more until he encounters a crazy lady named "Roxy" (played by Grace Zabriskie, in an over-the-top yet fairly amusing performance). They strike up an unusual friendship; and Darkly learns that Roxy is none other than Clay's Ma!
However, Roxy is Evil; she convinces Darkly that Callie is... a witch. ("Her name is WITCH, Boy!") Even though Darkly now hates Callie, he returns to her house, but things there are tense.
More strange things happen: Darkly continues to spy on Clay and Callie; Darkly constructs a barbed wire undershirt thing that he walks around (remarkably well) in to punish himself some more; Roxy's dog dies and she burns the dog's body on that giant silver boot (which is still just floating around the river?); Darkly sees a vision of his dead Ma and Pa (who are straight out of the "Degrassi Junior High" episode where Wheels dreams about his own deceased parents; Darkly's Ma and Pa even speak in unison. They're a lot creepier than Wheels's dead parents, though.)
After the vision of his dead Ma and Pa up in a tree, Darkly (who's officially lost whatever mind he had by this point) storms toward Callie and Clay's house bellowing "CALLLLLLIEEEE!" Mute Clay rushes to Callie's defense; and Ashley Judd showcases what I hope for her sake is the low point of her acting career as she watches the two men fight and wails, "STOP it! Clay, don't hurt him!!! Lee, keep calm!!!"
But then Darkly's shirt is ripped open, exposing his barbed wire undershirt and bloody chest -- and (finally seeing what a freak Darkly is) Callie orders him to take his things and go!
So Darkly does; but only long enough to go paint himself all red like a devil (with black paint under his eyes, that he just happens to have; I guess he stole it from Clay's workshop?). Then he makes himself a torch or something -- I don't remember, because I LOATHED this awful and way too long and drawn-out scene, and blocked most of it from my memory -- and returns to Callie and Clay's house to kill them both dead.
Demonic! Darkly knocks Clay unconscious pretty quickly (but doesn't kill him), then goes after Callie -- who screams and wails as fire crackles all around, illuminating the grisly scenario. Finally -- just as Darkly is about to kill her -- Callie's all, "I love you, Darkly!" This makes Darkly immediately stop in his tracks and stare at her with a dumb look on his painted-devil face (she... loves him?). Callie repeats the words. But before Darkly can either kill her or stammer "I l-love you, too, C-Callie", Jude appears and kills Darkly dead!
(Before he dies, Darkly mutters, "Wh-who will love me now?" -- which also happens to be the name of a PJ Harvey song on the soundtrack, minus the "stuttering" part.)
The entire film is every bit as bad as it sounds; however, it at least ends on an AWESOMELY bad note:
The morning after Darkly's death, Callie and Clay and Jude are all standing around outside in the forest next to the burned-up house peering at it, when out of the woods walks...
A circus family.
Leading an elephant on a leash.
And, as if that isn't enough -- the little circus boy is clutching a small, silver, sequined boot. His "favorite toy", explains the circus dad.
Circus Dad also says that the family's circus boat sank -- and that their "giant silver boot" just went floating away and they haven't been able to find it! By the way, can Callie show them the way out of the forest? (Before she does, the circus boy runs up to her and gives her his small, silver, sequined boot; so much for it being his favorite toy.)
I don't even know what to say about the whole circus family with the random elephant thing -- other than that I wish the rest of 'The Passion of Darkly Noon' had been as entertaining as its final scene!
The movie has its moments; but ultimately, it only manages to fall somewhere between "laughably awful" and just plain awful. With the right company (or -- if featured, as it should be -- on one of those TV shows that mocks bad movies) OR even if you're alone, I suppose it could be worth a hate watch.
But if you're seeking out a movie that's actually good... well, 'The Passion of Darkly Noon' is most definitely NOT what you're looking for! (3/10)