Darkness Falls
Grade: C-
Year: 2003 (Wide)
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Writer: Joseph Harris
Genre: Horror
Rated: PG-13

Most horror movies recycle the same trash from previous bad films and attempt to brand it new. "Darkness Falls" is no exception. It is almost a carbon copy of "Wes Craven Presents: They" although this version of a ghoulish figure who haunts the town at night is vastly superior. When you open the spectrum a little more, you realize that most horror flicks make teens their prime victims. A 6th sense child foresees the events that will eventually ravish the town, because their people are too naive to believe the horrific crayon pictures drawn by the children.

But "Darkness Falls" does give us one thing to appreciate, the sight of the Tooth Fairy. And for that, I applaud the movie because it could have been good. The movie opens with a narration telling the story of the town, Darkness Falls. Personally, I think anyone willing to live in a town called Darkness Falls deserves whatever is coming to them, but that's a different story.

We see the photograph of Matilda Dixon, an old woman all the children adored. Whenever a child lost a tooth, they would bring it to Matilda in exchange for a gold coin thus earning her the name, Tooth Fairy. One day (after she survives a house fire that disfigures her face) two children disappear after visiting Matilda. The town blames her, hang her, and sure enough the kids come home the next day without a scratch on their bodies. The town keeps the blooper a secret (if something of that magnitude is even possible) and buries the body of Matilda Dixon. Before she died, she placed a curse on the town that would reek havoc years later.

The first scene of the movie after the narration is one that we've all seen too many times. A young child is being put to bed, and a violent storm is about to pass over the house. This is the only part of the movie that is frightening. Shadows dance on the walls and eerie moaning sounds can be heard. The Tooth Fairy is here and she ain't happy.

We then fast forward to the present and meet Kyle Walsh (Chaney Kley), one of the unfortunates who 'peeked' at the Tooth Fairy when he lost his last tooth. Because he caught a glimpse of her horrific face, he is destined to fall victim to the Fairy. When exactly? That detail must have slipped past the screenwriters. He is now a young adult, and has never been in the dark ever since childhood. He gets a call from his once-good friend, Caitlin (Emma Caulfield), the girl he once had a crush on. Caitlin's brother is suffering from the same 'night terrors' Kyle suffered from, and she believes he may know how to help young Michael. Michael is in the hospital under the unexplained custody of his sister, and is undergoing treatment from the baffled doctors.

More characters emerge, and they couldn't be more thin. We immediately know from the beginning who will survive and who will not. All of the victims have "DISPOSABLE" already stamped on their forehead as soon as they appear onscreen. Kyle meets up with an old friend who is now a lawyer and is dating Caitlin. He takes Kyle to local bar to catch up on their history, and that's where the trouble begins. Experienced moviegoers know that no bar scene is complete without your token drunken idiot, whom for no reason at all has a serious grudge against the main character. In this case, I believe the drunkard is mad because Kyle's mom died and that offended him, therefore a fight to the death is necessary.

We're at the point now where Tooth Fairy has decided that now is the perfect time to start her spree. She swoops down whenever there's no light (or light that's not bright depending on what point of the screenplay we're at) and grabs her victims like a bat on a rat. But she has a problem that is always giving her away. She has a nasty phlegm-like gagging noise she hacks whenever she's near. But the citizens of Darkness Falls are too stupid to pick up on it, ignoring Kyle's warning to stay in the light.

Another problem in the movie is that the Tooth Fairy's actions aren't true to the legend. Only people who see her face can be attacked, yet she has no problem claiming unsuspecting victims who have never seen her. The funny thing is that the town never picks up on the curse. You'd think when people started dying every night, that the town would realize they had a problem on their shoulders.

"Darkness Falls" does numb your brain a little. How is it possible for the elevators to work when the power is out? You're better off not asking. How can Kyle be accused of killing off the victims when their bodies are seen falling from the trees which must of have been the result of a supernatural force? You're better off not asking. But how come…don't bother.

The movie hits rock bottom in one of the hospital scenes. The doctors have an idea on how to cure Michael's fear of the dark. They want to, get this, put him in some type of deprevationcybersubmergency chamber. The purpose of this machine is to put Michael in a dark place so he can get over his fear. Caitlin approves of the procedure although she could have saved 10 grand if she just threw him a closet until he got used to the dark. The audience laughs as Michael is strapped to a gurney and is being injected with all sorts of fluids.

"Darkness Falls" isn't scary, it's stupid. All of the scares are synthetic and the jumps are cheap. Most cheap scares are expected in movies like these, but "Darkness Falls," and give 'em credit for it, took it to a new level. While sitting idly in the car, a black cat jumps onto the hood screeching out a loud 'meow' for no reason at all. We later see a kid lying in bed scared out of his mind only for his mother to jump out from under the bed, "Hey honey, it's mommy!"

But like I said, you do get to see the Tooth Fairy, and she's pretty cool looking. Most horror films don't let you see so much of the ghost. Frankly I enjoyed the movie more than I should have, because, since "The Ring," there hasn't been such an impressively visual horror movie.

Don't get me wrong, "Darkness Falls" is awful. But fangoria fans will appreciate the ghastly Matilda Dixon. But that's all this movie is good for. I give it a C- (2 stars) because the opening scene in the house had ambition. But that's nothing to get excited about. The story is horrible, the acting is just as bad, and the characters were borrowed from cliché town--yes all of them; the tavern drunkard, the sheriff, the no-named nurses who serve as good fodder, the uptight lawyer, the doctor who wants to perform obscure procedures, and finally the few survivors who care more about the blood stain on their shirt than the many victims who die off in brutal fashion.

The makers of "Darkness Falls" can't defend themselves by saying they didn't have time to hit the cutting room floor because a scene shown in the trailer doesn't make the final product. A classroom full of kids look at a mysterious character who drops a puppet from his hand resembling the hanged Matilda. I'm guessing this is the scene where we were going to get another explanation of the Tooth Fairy legend, but that scene didn't make it. Too bad the rest of the film did.

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