Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Cast: Chaney Kley, Emma Caulfield
Screenplay: John Fasano, James Vanderbilt, Joe Harris
86 mins. Rated PG-13 for terror and horror images, and brief language.
Have you ever watched a horror film in your youth and thought it was scary as hell only to find out that when you revisit the film as an adult, it had no effect? What does that have to do with today’s film, you ask? Oh, nothing.
Darkness Falls is the site of a horrifying urban legend chronicled in the town’s past involving Matilda Dixon, nicknamed the Tooth Fairy (for some strange and unrealized reason) who was burned and then later murdered in a bizarre series of really bad days for Matilda. Later, she returned to haunt the living, murder children after they lose their last baby tooth, and basically be a big bitch. Now, in present day (2003), Kyle Walsh (Chaney Kley, Legally Blond, Jimmy and Judy), the only surviving child of Matilda “Tooth-Fairy-Disfigured-Ghost” Dixon’s murderous rage, has grown up and returned home to help childhood friend Caitlin Green (Emma Caulfield, TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, TiMER) whose younger brother is being targeted by Matilda.
Darkness Falls was moderately scary to 13-year-old Kyle some time back. 25-year-old wants to go back in time and slap 13-year-old Kyle for being such a wuss. As a youth, I remember finding the opening chilling. As an adult, I kept wondering how Kyle Walsh aged very strangely into Chaney Kley. Seriously, who cast the child actors for this thing? I’ll forgive them for Emily Browning. They saw some talent there and probably thought, nobody’s going to notice that she looks nothing like Emma Caulfield.
As far as the story goes, I felt like for a film this convoluted in its plot, it should feel more mysterious. But nope, we’ll just tell you the story in three minutes in front of public domain historical looking pictures of people while placing fire in the background to show you the whole burning in a fire theme we are going with. Matilda Dixon is overly complicated and most of the facts that bare interest get shoved to the background and quickly forgotten. I had spoken to some colleagues who explained that the finished film is drastically different than the original screenplay. There was a lot of work done, getting rid of the original actor playing Matilda (Doug Jones, losing him is a travesty unto itself) and putting the creature in more of the film (originally, it was planned to do a Jaws approach and show very little of the wicked spirit until the very end) by adding effects genius Stan Winston to the mix. It ended up being an incredibly underwhelming bit of nonsense.
I think what bothers me the most is that I got bored. The film’s runtime is a meager 86 minutes including its 12-minute end credits. For a film barely over an hour in length, there was so much rushed over yet the film seemed to drag on for ages.
To end off, I find that director Jonathan Liebesman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Wrath of the Titans) has shown in other films that he has a little bit of craft to his art (not greatness by any means, but at least slightly honorable work at times). I think Darkness Falls is the kind of film you remember, but you don’t really want to.
-Kyle A. Goethe
For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.
For my review of Jonathan Liebesman’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, click here.