**1/2 (out of 5)
January 24, 2003
Chaney Kley as KYLE WALSH
Emma Caulfield as CAITLIN GREENE
Antony Burrows as THE TOOTH FAIRY
Lee Cormie as MICHAEL GREENE
Grant Piro as LARRY FLEISHMAN
Directed by: Jonathan Liebesman
BY KEVIN CARR
“Darkness Falls” is about what you’d expect from a post-holiday season horror film. Think along the lines of “Leprechaun” and “Valentine.” Not really terrible movies. After all, they’re kinda fun to bring a date to, and there’s plenty of cheap thrills and creepy moments. However, they are a far cry from such visceral thrillers such as “The Sixth Sense,” “Signs” and “Event Horizon.”
The small Maine town of Darkness Falls has a dark history. In 1841, a widow named Matilda Dixon was known in the town for giving children a gold coin when they brought her their baby teeth. One day, two children didn’t return home from her place and the townsfolk immediately grabbed their pitchforks and torches. They captured Dixon and executed her in a mob hanging. The only problem was that Dixon hadn’t kidnapped the children. They were simply lost and wandered home the next day.
Since her death, the ghost of Matilda Dixon has haunted Darkness Falls. She visits all the children the night they lose their last baby tooth, and if they peek when she comes to take it, she will kill them. In 1991, Kyle Walsh peeked. Sucks to be him.
Kyle was able to escape the murderous ghost by staying in the light (which is the Tooth Fairy’s only weakness from a light-sensitive condition she had when she was alive), but his mother was not so lucky. Of course, when the police show up, no one believes Kyle story and suspect that he killed his mother.
Fast forward twelve years when Kyle (Chaney Kley) is suddenly contacted by his old girlfriend Caitlin (Emma Caulfield) for advice. Her younger brother Michael is having similar nightmares about the Tooth Fairy. Kyle leaves his safe haven of Las Vegas (where there is nothing but light – and the gambling and legalize prostitution ain’t bad for him either, I’m sure) and heads back to Darkness Falls to help Caitlin and her brother. Of course, what follows is a high-spirited chase as the Tooth Fairy tries to finish her business with Kyle – and has no problem killing anyone else in her way.
“Darkness Falls” takes a childhood fable of the Tooth Fairy and wraps a horror story around it. It reminds me of the mid-1980s after “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th” hit it big in the box office and every Hollywood knock-off they could think of came out surrounding a holiday or day of significance. Stinkers like “April Fools Day,” “Prom Night” and “Silent Night, Deadly Night” were some of the fallout from this trend. (MAD Magazine once did a spoof of this series of horror films called “Arbor Day,” which continues to be one of the funniest things the magazine has ever published.)
If “Darkness Falls” does well, I’m sure that there will be plenty more to follow, making murdering monsters out of such terrifying creatures as the Easter Bunny. We’ve already had “Rumpelstiltskin” and “Jack Frost.” Just keep your eyes peeled for films like “Jack Sprat” and “Humpty Dumpty” in the near future.
Actually, the premise of “Darkness Falls” is incredibly eerie and effective – a ghost that will hunt down anyone who ever lays eyes upon it. Although it has some overt similarities to Freddy Krueger of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” fame (such as the hideous scarred face and it coming to get you when you are going to bed), the Tooth Fairy works as a villain.
The biggest problem is that the characters is that they have all taken lobotomy pills. They are even more stupid than characters normally are in horror flicks. For example, although Kyle still clearly believes that the Tooth Fairy is out to get him, he accompanies his “friend” Larry to a dark bar in the middle of the dark woods. Duh.
The film also has a body count like that of “Eight Legged Freaks,” with so many people getting slaughtered that you quickly lose count – as well as any inclination to care about the next ones to suffer the Tooth Fairy’s wrath.
And speaking of the Tooth Fairy, she wears this silly porcelain mask to keep out the light. While its filmmaking purpose is clear (to keep the bad guy obscured throughout), it is much too similar to the mask the killer used in “Valentine” (a not so great movie to pay homage to) and at times is too much like “The Phantom of the Opera.” That was the genius of the “Scream” flicks – the unique mask. And that was the last real original horror movie mask since the “Halloween” prop department spray-painted a William Shatner mask ghost white in the 1970s.
In a lot of ways, the cinematography and surreal feel of the film overpowers the story and plot. If you’re in the business to shoot your own low-budget horror film, this is one to see to get some ideas of how to use darkness, shadows and creepy sounds to your advantage. However, if you’re looking for a compelling horror flick, don’t waste your time with “Darkness Falls.”