Published Feb 01, 2003If it wasn't so darn stupid and poorly written, acted, and directed, you could almost admire Darkness Falls for its utter refusal to conform to recent horror movie trends of clever self-awareness, instead embracing many of the tired clichés that have been mocked and discredited of late. Set in the town of Darkness Falls (get it?), the movie begins with narrated exposition explaining the curse that the town has been labouring under. It seems that about 150 years ago there lived a kindly old woman who loved children and would reward them with money when they lost their baby teeth. They called her the "Tooth Fairy," until she was hideously disfigured in a fire, became extremely sensitive to light, and could only go outside at night with her face covered in a porcelain mask. A couple of children go missing, she gets wrongly accused, gets lynched by the not-so-kindly townsfolk, and swears her eternal revenge on the children of Darkness Falls. Now this story might make for a half-decent horror flick, but it's just rattled off in a pre-credits voice-over as the set-up to the real plot, which is even more convoluted. The Tooth Fairy's curse is that her evil, vengeful spirit visits children when they lose their last tooth and if they look at her, she kills them (unless they can escape into the light she's sensitive to light, remember?). Once she is unleashed, you're basically screwed, as you can never ever be in darkness again. This happens to a young Kyle Walsh on the eve of his first date with Caitlin. He fends the ghost off with a flashlight and cowers in a well-lit bathroom while his mom gets murdered. Twelve years and many pyschotropic drugs later, Kyle is summoned back to Darkness Falls to help Caitlin with her young brother Michael, who has been hospitalised for his own refusal to ever get caught in the dark for fear of the sinister spirit waiting to kill him. The onus is on Kyle to save the day by proving the existence of the evil Tooth Fairy to a disbelieving town and then coming up with a way to destroy her for good, all while avoiding the dark (which becomes exponentially harder during the predictable blackout that comes about halfway through this mercifully short movie).
The premise of Darkness Falls is weak to begin with, and then spread way too thin. The moments meant to frighten are predictable, losing the power of surprise, as they're basically the same scare played out over and over again in pretty much the same way. Even the supposedly terrifying ghost quickly loses her ability to shock after the initial glimpses of her. The only vaguely redeeming thing is that occasionally, though not nearly often enough, the script seems to express a sense of its own ridiculousness. But lines like "All this over a fucking tooth?" can really only take you so far.