Review: Darkness Falls

The film conjures images of studio heads wanting to numb young test audiences into submission.

Darkness Falls
Photo: Columbia Pictures

Jonathan Liebesman’s Darkness Falls is so pitiful that it doesn’t even deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as some of the worst B-movies ever made. This 75-minute extension of filmmaker Joseph Harris’s short film The Tooth Fairy vies for “old school” cred yet its unbearably loud and witless disposition conjures images of studio heads wanting to numb young test audiences into submission. What with its utter disregard for human life and its own inherently creepy mythos, Darkness Falls is Häxan for the Scream generation, cutesy one-liners and all. The entire thing reeks of a woodsy fireside ghost tale: “So there was this old hag who liked to collect baby teeth from the children of Darkness Falls in exchange for copper coins. She got burnt badly in a house fire and decided to wear a porcelain mask so no one would look at her hideous, light-sensitive face. When two children went missing, the townsfolk ceremoniously hung the woman, who now bore a striking resemblance to Spirited Away’s No-Face. When the children turned up, the town responded with a resounding, ‘Whoopsies!’ Years later, the ‘Tooth Fairy’ began to visit the town’s children, daring them to look at her face as she tried to swipe their last baby tooth. If they looked, she tried to kill them, but should they have survived, she’d tailgate them for the rest of their lives. Some say she haunts these very woods! When running away from the Tooth Fairy, make sure to carry a flashlight and a supply of batteries with you at all times. Word is that she can’t kill you if you are in the light. Beware of sunsets and power outages and stay close to structures that emit powerful rays of light. If all else fails, you can always move out of Darkness Falls since she seems to be a very territorial creature who’s set definite limits for herself. No one will believe you when you tell them that the Tooth Fairy is after you, but not for the reasons you might expect. We know the Tooth Fairy exists—it’s just that we don’t like to think of her as such a bitch. If you can’t aim your flashlight at what appears to be your sister’s black negligee swishing across your eye-line, aim in the direction of her ear-splitting screech. Of course, don’t confuse her wail for the equally penetrating sound of keys turning inside locks, doors opening and objects crashing into each other. Tomorrow I’ll tell you about what happened when the Easter Bunny came hopping into the small town of Egg Sunday.”

 Cast: Chaney Kley, Emma Caulfield, Joshua Anderson, Andrew Bayly, Mark Blackmore, Emily Browning, Antony Burrows, Lee Cormie, Peter Curtin  Director: Jonathan Liebesman  Screenwriter: John Fasano, Joseph Harris, James Vanderbilt  Distributor: Columbia Pictures  Running Time: 86 min  Rating: PG-13  Year: 2003  Buy: Video, Soundtrack

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez is the co-founder of Slant Magazine. His writing has also appeared in The Village Voice and The Los Angeles Times. He’s a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, the Critics Choice Association, and the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association.

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