I’ve never seen Darkness Falls. Once again this was before my time at Bloody-Disgusting and it never seemed like an important enough piece of horror history to bother catching up with. But maybe I’m wrong! But The Wolfman did see it, and while he didn’t love the movie – he found at least one scene worth writing about. Sometimes finding a saving grace in a film comes down to finding just one scene that really hits it out of the park. And that’s precisely the point The Wolfman (@TheWolfmanCometh – on the boards) aims to illustrate here in his column!
We’re going to, on occasion, start examining good scenes that outpace the general quality of the film that contains them. And we hope you’ll come along for the ride! Head inside for his take on Darkness Falls!
While recently reviewing Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (by the way, that review is over here on my own blog), there were a few things that reminded a lot of a forgotten movie from almost ten years ago, Darkness Falls. I used to frequently confuse Darkness Falls with Pitch Black, another movie that came out around that time that also involves darkness as a main plot point, but don’t make the same mistake I did – they are quite different. Pitch Black took place on an alien planet, while Darkness Falls took place in a town called…Darkness Falls. In Pitch Black, the enemies are these alien creatures that hate sunlight and attack people at night, in Darkness Falls the enemy is the Tooth Fairy. Pitch Black stars Vin Diesel, who went on to become quite the successful action movie star. Darkness Falls stars Chaney Kley, who looks like he just did some TV stuff and then dropped off the planet. The biggest difference between these two movies is that Pitch Black was a pretty entertaining sci-fi action movie and Darkness Falls was a giant pile of garbage. Although, they did do one thing that I thought was pretty cool, hence its inclusion in this column.
The film opens with the exposition that there was a widow who was really nice in the town of Darkness Falls who always gave little trinkets to kids in town when losing their teeth, which caused the people in town to call her the “Tooth Fairy”. A fire horribly disfigures her, causing her to wear a porcelain mask and giving her intense sensitivity to light. When two kids go missing, the town blames her, murders her, but not before she swears her vengeance. This urban legend is told generation after generation, and the belief in the story is tested on the night someone loses their last baby tooth, when supposedly the Tooth Fairy will visit them. The scary part? If you see the Tooth Fairy in your room, she will murder you. When one kid sees the Tooth Fairy, he shines light on her and realizes her weakness is light, so he spends the rest of his life never allowing himself to be in darkness, knowing the Tooth Fairy will finish the job. This insanity causes him to get locked up in a mental institution, and it’s only when he’s an adult that he returns to Darkness Falls. While there, a childhood friend says her younger brother is demonstrating the same symptoms that our “hero” had shown when he was younger, and it’s revealed that, yup, the Tooth Fairy really is back to finish the job. The rest of the movie is scenes of people turning lights on and off and the power going out and people shooting at a CGI cloaked figure and then something happens with a lighthouse and, oh who cares, the Tooth Fairy loses. By the way, the Tooth Fairy is NOT played by The Rock.
Do you guys think maybe there’s a reason why this Chaney Kley fellow never really went anywhere? Not that any one specific part of this movie was particularly bad, it was just a potpourri of terrible. Having a villain whose weakness is bright light? How many reasons did the filmmakers have to come up with the have the hero not be surrounded by light at all times? Well, there’s a storm, which knocks out the power, but it’s okay! Our hero has a bunch of flashlights at all times! But, oh no! He is arrested and his flashlights are taken! The darkness is going to kill him! Also, did you notice the clever title? Ya see, the TOWN is called “Darkness Falls”, and in this movie, the DANGER is DARKNESS…FALLING! DO YOU GUYS GET IT?! THE TITLE HAS A DOUBLE MEANING! Ugh, I’m angry at myself for remembering how awful this movie is. Do you guys remember the remake of The Haunting from 1999? Remember how there were some creepy things going on, but it just ended up being a wonderful example of what happens when you use too much CGI in a ghost movie? Well, take that same idea, but instead of giant statues coming out of fountains, make it some lady in a cloak flying around. In fact, I’m not even sure there’s a single scene where the villain was a real person wearing the ghost’s outfit. Despite so many things about this movie falling completely flat, it’s strange to say, but the entire concept of the movie is something that I think could have been done really well, and I think the opening sequence is still really good.
Notice how in my summary for what happens in the movie, most of the summary is the backstory of this legend? Most of that stuff, about the woman giving out coins, getting burned, getting killed, is all told through narration with a bunch of creepy old pictures. It was a really successful way of building a legend that almost seemed believable. No, not that there is a real Tooth Fairy (is there?), but that the legend of the Tooth Fairy could have started in this way. Once the legend was built, the film jumped forward a century or two and we see a terrified little kid. As much as he doesn’t want to believe in the Tooth Fairy, there’s part of him that does. Laying there, in the darkness, he starts hearing noises. WE ALL HEAR NOISES AT NIGHT! But imagine if instead of it being a door creaking a little or the wind or whatever we tell ourselves, what if maybe, just maybe, that noise really IS something in there with us? Not only that, but if you keep your eyes shut, whatever it is won’t even bother you. But, if your curiosity gets the best of you, you’re really going to regret it. That concept is absolutely terrifying to me, because it’s like the Schrödinger’s cat of creepy noises. The noise is real, but the noise is both something that will leave you alone or will absolutely murder you once you confirm that it is, in fact, what you thought the noise was at the same time. Although, it’s also entirely possible that I’m the only one who liked that sequence and I’ll come to find out that I’m afraid of the dark or something, but I really enjoyed the way this movie successfully twisted around the idea of something no one ever thought to be creepy into something that will make you question investigating those creepy sounds you hear. That’s how Rare Exports reminded me of this, because that’s a movie that involves twisting around the real legend of Santa and exposing it for what it is. The different though is that Rare Exports is good, and Darkness Falls is pretty awful. If you can watch this first ten minutes of this movie, I’d say stick to that, and pretend like the movie just shuts off right there.