Darkness Falls
Dir: Jonathan Liebesman
Star: Emma Caulfield, Chaney Kley, Lee Cormie, Grant Piro
Cert / Year: 15 - PG-13 / 2003
Format: DVD R1

It is said, that over 150 years ago in the town of "Darkness Falls". Matilda Dixon was adored by all the children. Whenever one of them lost a tooth, they would bring it to her in exchange for a gold coin. Earning her the name "the Tooth Fairy".
But fate was not kind to Matilda. One night, fire tore through her home on Lighthouse Point, leaving her face horribly scarred. Matilda's burned flesh was so snesitive to light she could only go out at night, always wearing a porcelain mask so no one could ever look upon her face.
One day, two children didn't come home, the townspeople blamed Matilda. The hanged her, tearing off the mask, exposing her hideous face to the light and with her dying breath Matilda laid a curse upon Darkness Falls. The next morning the two children were found safe and sound. The town buried their secret along with Matilda's body. Since then there are some who believe that Matilda visits the children of Darkness Falls on the night that they lose their last tooth. Seeking her vengeance on any who lay their eyes upon her face, fulfilling her curse "What I took before in kindness, I will take forever in revenge".

Kyle Walsh was just like any kid growing up in Darkness Falls, except one night he lost his last baby tooth and placed it somewhere that the "Tooth Fairy" could get it. Unfortunately, things take a bad turn when he wakes up and sees her, thus obliging her to kill him. Kyle gives her the slip and makes it into the safety of the bathroom light, but the Tooth Fairy doesn't give up that easily. Put into care soon afterward Kyle, survives for years in a state of paranoid noctiphobia, keeping himself away from anywhere dark and maintaining constant light around himself at all times, even going as far as living in city of lights, Las Vegas. Until that is, 12 years later and Kyle (Chaney Kley) receives a strange phone call from childhood sweetheart Caitlin (Emma Caulfield) who asks for his help with her younger brother Michael, (Lee Cormie) who also believes that the Tooth Fairy is going to get him. Reluctantly, and armed with a holdall full of flashlights Kyle returns to the sleepy little town of Darkness Falls, that disbelieved him all those years ago, to face his fear once and for all.....

The film opens well and the first 15 minutes or so are excellent and wonderfully eerie, culminating in a very stylish bathroom set piece. The direction by newcomer Jonathan Liebesman has some pleasing moments of invention and despite some mildly cliche and a couple of very predictable moments the film holds it's own and manages to display a certain degree of originality. Some of the well arranged and designed photography has moments which are reminiscent of Pitch Black, which can only count in it's favour. In addition to the style, the film has a good atmosphere which even manages a few instances to make you jump. Liebesman also used Patrick Lussier ( Prophecy III & Dracula 2000) as a visual consultant. Why, exactly we can only assume it was at the studio's behest as they obviously wanted to make a film for a younger audience. This is obvious by the inumerable times that the horror and suspense "cops out" and pulls it's punch in favour of a milder option as a guarantee of a lower rating. Which is a shame because had Liebesman been permitted to go that little bit further, perhaps even to a "15" (UK) or "R"(US) rating then this would have been something really special. That said, the suspense is there as is the atmosphere but if you expect a really good horror movie, you would expect more than you get here and for a while you think you're going to get it as Liebesman treats the viewer to some potent and charged visuals.

A good story by Joe Harris, nicely put together and affording a fresh perspective to the old "Tooth Fairy" mythology. Darkness Falls aspires to be more than it's peers, and elevates itself above your typical "slasher horror" movie and nestles comfortably in a very old fashioned horror genre stylee. The "things that go bump in the night" sort of horror is rarely addressed well in modern cinema as film after film degenerates into CGI or teen hell. There is a set piece during the film where the "Tooth Fairy" attacks a police station which is pretty cool, but it was very reminiscent of a similar sequence in Jeepers Creepers. On the plus side for any real fans of Horror, both Jeepers Creepers and Darkness Falls are very stylishly directed in that old school style of horror direction affording them a charm all their own. Despite allowing the audience to occasionally lose sight a little of the real focus of the film, Darkness Falls is an absorbing and well paced piece of film making. The chilling "Tooth Fairy" was of course designed by the one and only Stan Winston so that works rather well, as does the cool and flowing CG effects which back it.

Emma Caulfield makes a good transition from TV to film actress and unlike many of her fellow Buffy: The Vampire Slayer co-stars, she is evidently endowed with a modicum of talent. She does well here despite some shortcomings with an oft bland script. Chaney Kley provides a sardonic performance as the quite leaden "hero", Kyle. The character was lacking any real substance and that is most likely due to poor writing as Kley is quite good in a David Arquette buffoon sort of way. Young Australian lad Lee Cormie is acceptable as Michael, and not your standard "annoying brat in horror movie" character. Despite obviously lacking in experience, he does well and conveys his characters fear well and has good chemistry and interaction with the rest of the cast. A lot of the cast were quite poor really in their individual cheesy sorts of way and Grant Piro was possibly the worst of the lot. A brief performance by the talented, young Emily Browning , who performed so well in Ghost Ship, appears here as young Caitlin. Once again she provides a good performance and plays a good part, this is a talent that will be one to watch in the future.

A cool and eerie soundtrack by Brian Tyler accompanies some vociferous and superb soundscaping, very suggestive and hair raising (just like Pitch Black) courtesy of "Skywalker Sound". Like Pitch Black, sound does play quite an integral part in this film, as much of the tension and suspense is built using that medium and some clever shadow photography and the insistence of conducting the various deaths "off-screen" did leave plenty to the imagination. Although, Pitch Black does do it better for my money.

Visually well composed and designed. Suspenseful and atmospheric this is an impressive supernatural thriller but not quite 3 dimensional. No masterpiece but a good debut by Liebesman. A good horror / thriller to immerse yourself in, but remember.... "don't peek". Darkness Falls will no doubt be another reason for some viewers to be afraid of the dark (again). Yet another, boogeyman to hide under your bed...... or outside your bathroom.....


Every Legend Has Its Dark Side

Rating: 3.5 out of 5Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Picture 2.40:1 Widescreen & 4.3 Fullscreen Excellent crisp image on both screen options
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Excellent
Features Cool animated menu
Dull but interesting commentary track by director
Small "making of" featurette
Legend of Mathilda Dixon - historical featurette
Series of deleted scenes
Storyboard comparison feature
Verdict Good high definition transfer and excellent sound quality. There are a few interesting extras on the disc, making it a good purchase. Also like the real option of having a Widescreen or a Fullscreen version of the film without having to flip the disc.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home