Darkness Falls (2003)
By: Devon B. on July 4, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Sony (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 1.33:1, 2.40:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, French DD 5.1. English, French Subtitles. 85 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Starring: Chaney Kley, Emma Caulfield, Lee Cormie, Grant Piro
Screenplay: Joe Harris, John Fasano
Country: USA
Darkness Falls appears to be propagated by a bunch of liars. There is a brief doco here saying the story behind the film is an Australian legend. This information appears to be entirely false, as the only place I could find anything about that was on the DVD. And the commentary certainly seems to imply that they made the whole thing up. BASTARDS!

Darkness Falls begins with a pretty cool intro about the legend of the movie's tooth fairy. A reclusive, scarred woman collects kids' teeth, and gives 'em money. One day some kids go missing, the woman gets blamed and hung, but then the kids show up. Oops. The woman becomes the tooth fairy, and still doesn't want anyone to see her horrible visage, so if they catch a glimpse of her it's bye-bye time. But, because she was so sensitive to light while alive, she still can't get illuminated or she'll be hurting. Unless, evidently, the light is generated by lightning. The legend doesn't make much sense, given that she's tormenting kids when it was adults that did her in, but what urban legend is completely logical? Aside from that one about the Hook Hand guy, naturally.

After the intro is a good scene pertaining to a kid worrying about his recently lost tooth being picked up that night. The scene plays on childhood fears very well, capturing the dread of pulling down the sheet you're hiding under and encountering something that shouldn't be there. The scene is a little too long, and repeats itself a bit, but is overall quite effective. It culminates with the child hiding in a shower, and pulling down the curtain in what I thought was a nod to Psycho, but the commentary reveals it was homage to Signs. I guess there really aren't enough people paying tribute to M. Night Shamalamadingdong. Then the movie cuts to 12 years later, where a childhood friend of the boy from the opening scene has found her younger brother in the same situation. Really, you should just stop the movie once the initial attack scene is over, 'cause the rest isn't that great.

The problem is the film starts out akin to Candyman, but ultimately lacks the visceral punch of that film, and plays more to the M crowd, complete with tons of jump scares. This leaves the dramatics and the horror much less engrossing than, say, Candyman. The film would've faired better with better performances, because a few are really flat. The child at least has the excuse that he's desperately trying to mask an Australian accent, but I don't know what the adults have to blame. Occasionally a funny line will sneak into the script, but the only humorous bit I really liked was two cops arguing who had to go outside to check on a power outage. The climax is terrible, and features one of the worst groan-inducing one-liners in recent memory. The film NEVER regains the tension it builds in the opening scene, and even that section is over long.

While there is some effective imagery, there is also poorly done CG, mostly pertaining to the titular villain. Like what happened with the overrated Jeepers Creepers, the nasty pastie looks better early on with her mask and cloak. But on the other hand, the cloak also made her reminiscent of the Death-like character in The Frighteners, which was naturally done much better, so Darkness Falls loses all around. Her more annoying moments came from the 'surprise' swoops across the screen, but they must work to some extent because one scared my wife so bad she jolted and cricked her neck.
Video
Darkness Falls is available both full frame and at 2.35:1. Both versions of the film are presented on the same side of the disc, and as happens in these cases, the film suffers from the compression, most noticeable with the ghosting of images.
Audio
The audio is improved over the video, with a rich, atmospheric 5.1 track. Dialogue is mostly clear, but can sometimes be overpowered by other sounds and music.
Extra Features
The DVD comes with some deleted scenes, one of which explains how the Fairy could abduct the nurse who hadn't seen her. The extended scene still doesn't work, though, because the lead girl certainly should've seen the Fairy at the elevator. I guess maybe something got mixed up in the continuity department during the retooling of the film. Aside from this bit, the extra scenes are worthless. There are also storyboard comparisons; a pretty standard, all around back patting making of, and a cool short called The Legend of Matilda Dixon about the story's supposed Australian roots. There are two commentary tracks provided as well. The first is with the director, two producers and one of the writers. It's a rollicking chat, and they try to joke around, but it's only really funny when they rip on each other's efforts. The director makes claim to lots of homages, almost all of them to crap movies. Interesting…The fellas also discuss that the original concept of the film was more psychological, which is what makes me think that the aforementioned plot hole with the lead girl may be due to reshoots. The commentary is ultimately pretty chaotic, and not that great. The writer's commentary is fairly dull, despite them thinking they're hilarious. They make it sound like they made up the whole Matilda Dixon story, even calling it a 'quote unquote true story.'
The Verdict
The movie is okay, I guess, if only because it finally introduces a situation where flashlights do make a logical weapon choice. A lacklustre monster, a boring story, and overlong at 85 minutes (which includes 11 minutes of end credits), Darkness Falls is one to skip.
Movie Score
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