a critiQal film review Darkness Falls (2003)

Plot: In the town of Darkness Falls, there’s a tale about a lady named Matilda Dixon, a ghost that wears a porcelain mask - and kills anyone that sees her. It’s just a tale though, right? Not for Kyle (Kley), who witnessed the Tooth Fairy kill his mother. Now, 12 years later, he’s come back to Darkness Falls. Why? Because his old girlfriend Katie (Caulfield) has a younger brother, Michael (Cormie)...and Michael has seen the Tooth Fairy too.

617 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 5s)
  • ...an average horror film made almost laughable by a ridiculously-named bad guy.

Hmmm…it seems like Hollywood is starting to run out of original names for villains? I mean, “The Tooth Fairy”? C’mon. But wait, Darkness Falls isn’t the only film this year where the villain was the Tooth Fairy – it was only one of two! The other? Red Dragon (2002), the remade prequel of The Silence of the Lambs (1991). I could see it (maybe) once, but two villains named the Tooth Fairy? Be serious.

Apart from that, the trailer for Darkness Falls looked decent, so I figured I’d check it out when it came to DVD. No sense wasting $7 to see the Tooth Fairy, right?

The acting was decent enough. Not great, not crappy…just enough to keep the story flowing without you really starting to care a lot about the characters. Good thing, too, since they disappear quickly in Darkness Falls. This has gotta have a higher body count then the last Freddy movie! A bit surprising, but I digress.

Emma Caulfield, Anya from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (TV), played her first major starring role (that I know of, anyway) pretty darn good. Since she had to do a lot of reacting, rather then acting, it was probably much simpler, but she still did a pretty decent job for this foray of hers into feature films.

Chaney Kley, who I don’t recognize, kept the storyline flowing nicely, and didn’t try to own each scene, as so many inexperienced actors like to do. He tried (but didn’t always succeed) to pull the realism into the fantasy world that is the movies, and it does help keep the viewer entertained.

The plot, with the exception of the stupid villain name, seemed decent for a horror film. There are definite undertones of A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) sprinkled throughout, but they did a good job of recognizing the dream world has been over-used, and ventured off into the real world for their story.

There’s a big plot difference between something that is imaginary but dangerous, and something dangerous that is not readily seen. It’s a fine distinction, but a major one. It was nice to see that aspect explored more in depth.

It was also more enjoyable to watch Darkness Falls then say, The Blair Witch Project (1999), at least in terms of lighting. Although most of the action takes place in the dark, or near dark, you never need to squint to see what’s happening. A great job on the lighting, definitely, since some movies try for that, and it just makes the viewer squinty-eyed, trying to see what’s happening. The film did piece together well, and made for enjoyable, if not very scary, viewing.

The special effects are majorly under-used for a film with this high of a body count. It’s kind of surprising, actually. The trailers make you believe you’re in for a horror thrill-ride, and Darkness Falls comes out as more of a good pop-thrill ride.

It’s not very scary, there’s almost no blood, and when people are killed, they just disappear from the light, there’s a few crunching sounds, and then they show up dead. Heck, I can see this much violence playing the latest fighting game on my PS2®.

When the Tooth Fairy is revealed, however, they do a good job of making her realistic enough, and there are no noticeable flubs in the special effects, as there are in so many films these days.

All in all, I’d say Darkness Falls is a decent time-killer, something to watch on a date night. It’s not too scary, it’s not dull, it’s fast-paced, and it’ll give you something to talk about (or laugh about) over coffee later.

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