Darkness Falls (2003)
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"Darkness Falls" delivered the goods. The movie has just enough supernatural to it to be weird and freaky, and the acting, while not terribly good, isn't horrible. I think they showed the monster a little too early, but that's just me.
We were terrified. Neither of us would go anywhere in my house without the lights on, and certainly not alone! The sets, lighting and sound effects were so creepy it made my skin crawl.
Certainly better fare than some other pathetic excuses for horror movies that rely solely on special effects for creep.
It's so much fun watching films multiple times. It's very rare that my opinion remains the same on a film from one viewing to the next. Sometimes my rating goes down, sometimes it goes up, and sometimes it stays the same, but I like or dislike the film for different reasons than I did on my first viewing. Darkness Falls (2003) is a case where my rating has gone up quite a bit since my last encounter with it. I think the difference this time was for two primary reasons--one, when I first saw this in the theater it was in the midst of a slew of horror films that had similar themes, and maybe I was getting tired of it by the time I watched this one, and two, I think the positive aspects worked well enough for me this time that I was more forgiving of the few flaws the film has.
And it does have flaws. Let's get those out of the way first. The main flaw for me was some of the super-fast editing during the horror "action" scenes. Occasionally it was so fast that I couldn't very well tell what was going on. However, I also realized this time that at least occasionally, the editing is perfect for the scene. For example, there is a scene set the small town police station that is inherently chaotic. Chaotic editing is the only thing that would fit.
The other flaw is that there are occasional lapses in plot logic. The most crucial for me occurred during the climax, where there were a couple actions taken that I was a bit confused about. It didn't help that the climax is also slightly marred with hyperactive editing.
However, in both of those cases, the good stuff far outweighed the bad for me. The villain in Darkness Falls is excellent in conception and design. The backstory is captivating. When it's initially told through a "slideshow" during the opening credits, I was thinking that I would have preferred them to give me a 10-minute historical prologue, but in retrospect, I'd prefer to see an entire film that's a prequel telling the villain's story. I loved the small town setting of the film, and the interactions of the characters in the script. They seemed like real people to me, with entwined pasts. I loved the three main characters, and thought their performances were very good. Since I'm a big Buffy The Vampire Slayer fan, that might have supplied Emma Caulfield with some unconscious bonus points, but I loved her acting here.
What really matters in a film like this is the horror material, and director Jonathan Liebesman handles it skillfully. Although I'm not usually a fan of modern films having shorter running times (it was more understandable back in the days of literal A and B films on the same bill at a theater), Darkness Falls is compact because there is little "dead time" between the suspenseful material. Liebesman only spends as much time as necessary with "serious drama" to amplify the horror. These types of scenes were handled well enough to make me either forget or not care if there were any rules broken when it comes to keeping the villain at bay.
Although I'm not someone who finds films scary, I can see Darkness Falls working for many viewers in terms of frights. Many primal fears are touched upon. There is an excellent extended bit in complete darkness (you only hear the soundtrack), and of course darkness and things coming out of the darkness is a major theme throughout. You also get scenes of claustrophobia, loss of control, elevators, hospitals, and many other situations that should work on more receptive viewers' sensibilities.
This one is worth seeing, but approach it more in the frame of mind of a fun roller-coaster ride than a literary masterpiece.
An acceptable horror movie full of thrills , chills , and shocks starred by an ancient Tooth Fairy gone amok. She is a 150 year old dark legend named Matilda , unjustly accused of child murder , wrongfully hanged and burnt alive by angry townfolks . As people being horrorified by the dentin pixie and she seeks a merciless vendetta . Genuinely scary moments overcome some obvious plot devices .This is a juicy gothic material fashioning an iconic bogeywoman providing screaming , chilling and eerie scenes . It has a ridículous premise spawns a fim in ups and downs .All semblance of plausability is extracted , leaving cast of TV actors : Chaney Kley , Emma Caufield of Buffy , Sullivan Stapleton , John Stanton , Emily Browning to take on a script with several gaps , flaws and full of cliches. However , the film is quite restrained , as it delivers a spooky and creepy atmosphere.
It packs an adecuate but very dark and shading cinematography by Dan Laustsen. As well as a thrilling and suspenseful musical score by Brian Tyler. The motion picture was uneven but professionally directed by Jonathan Liebesman. Jonathan is a good filmmaker who has directed a few of blockbusters as : teenage mutant ninja turtles, Wrath of Titanes , Battle Los Angeles, The killing room and thanks to this Darkness Falls was hired by powerful producer Michael Bay to direct : the Texas chainsaw massacre : the beginning . Rating : acceptable and passable .
While I didn't enjoy Jeepers Creepers, I did actually find the sequel (Jeepers Creepers 2, if you didn't know) quite enjoyable. So a couple of weeks after renting JC2, I went back to the video store and saw Darkness. I had seen it on the shelves before, but back then it had not sparked my interest. But now, I rented it and along with some chips I went back to my house, hoping that this would be a good movie.
The first thing I noticed was that I had picked the wrong kind of chips. Then I popped the DVD into the player.
The plot is quite simple, and something we have heard a hundred times before. An old lady used to live in the city of Darkness Falls, about 150 years ago. The people around town used to call her the tooth fairy, cause she used to give children money when they had lost a tooth. One day, she was accused of having killed two children and was hanged by the townsfolk. With her last breath she cursed the town of Darkness Falls.
Fast-forward to present time, well, almost. Young Kyle Walsh has just lost the last of his child's teeth, and merrily hops into bed thinking he'll get some cash for it. Instead, the murderous tooth fairy emerges and, even though Kyle manages to escape by staying "in the light", his mother bites the dust.
Fastforward again, and we find Kyle, now in his early twenties, living alone, very disturbed by his constant nightmares of the tooth fairy. We learn that she is still haunting him, trying to kill him since he has seen her. But by staying out of the darkness and in the light (the tooth fairy cannot enter the light), he has survived. Kyle gets a phonecall from an old girlfriend from his childhood: Caitlin Greene, whose brother has the same symptons that Kyle has. Kyle goes back to the city of Darkness Falls, in hope of helping this poor kid out. But that's when the tooth fairy appears again, and kills, pretty much everyone who Kyle meets.
The beginning of the movie, where Young Kyle is attacked by the tooth fairy, is immensly scare and tense. Very well done. I loved it. Unfortunetly, after that the movie went downhill. Very downhill. The following 40 minutes has Kyle simply walking around, talking to folks in his old town, and telling his past to his ex, Caitlin. This part of the movie is OK. But about 50 minutes into the movie, we realize that this movie is utter garbage. Suddenly, what started as a very good horror film, has turned into somewhat of a... I don't really know what to call it. But Kyle travels from diffrent locations in the town at night, and meets about 20 diffrent people. All of which are killed off in. One each minute. It's awful. At this point of the movie, the plot is completly abandoned, and all we can comprehend is Kyle yelling "Stay in the light!" (Pitch Black, anyone?) and people being grabbed by the tooth fairy and dragged into the darkness.
It's to bad this movie turned into such a stinker. It had alot of promise. A cool villain, some good actors, a very nice soundtrack and some nice directing and editing (in the FIRST part of the movie). Bottomline is, don't even rent this film. If someone you know happens to own it, ask if you can watch the first ten minutes of it, then turn it off. Believe me, it's not worth watching the whole movie (even though it's only 82 minutes long, and that includes ending credits of ca: 11 minutes)
3 / 10.
Decent acting, good story flow, nice special effects for the budget, honest scares, fine gore-avoidance, entertaining mood-setting opening credits, and cliches up the whazoo. A solid 6 out of 10.
This, from a jaded, cynical old-timer.
To be honest, I think it's very entertaining, has good action sequences, decent acting, great use of lights in the dark, and a not so bad looking supernatural villain. The use of CGI wasn't that bad but wasn't also very good.
It's a shame Chaney Kley is dead because he was a charismatic actor. Emma Caulfield is really hot in my opinion. Lee Cormie delivers a fine performance. The kid can act.
The soundtrack was good for me. But the best feature in my opinion was the dynamic look and direction. Plenty of dynamic action sequences. The highlights of the movie include the shooting in the prison and the final elevator chase. Also, when the fairy attacks the car is a clever moment.
While this is not a classic or even considered as a good Horror movie, I think we could be generous with it and label it as an entertaining B-horror effort that should be enjoyed for what it is. People who are more familiar with new wave Horror should enjoy it better.
Pretty much despised by the discerning horror-phile, Darkness Falls, to me at least, is a creepy, interesting and totally enjoyable thriller/ghost picture worth reappraisals. From the excellent, and chilling opening credits (where we nicely have a back story to work from), to the final confrontation, Darkness Falls ticks most of the ghostly requisites that is asked of it. Scary demon, troubled children 9night terrors should be explored more in cinema I feel), cannon fodder bullies, cannon fodder obnoxious coppers and a constant sense of unease and dread. All of which is provided in Jonathan Liebesman's 9The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning) film. It's with the sense of dread that I feel Darkness Falls deserves a better reputation. Hand on my heart I know the film isn't a scary boo jump picture, something that is unforgivable to many genre supporters, but atmosphere goes a long way to creating a good thriller/ghost story picture. Darkness Falls has it in spades. It's also a film that is a nice antidote to the blood beast torture sub-genre of film's that seep out from the multi-plexes on a seemingly weekly basis.
Any expectation of an outright horror film should be quickly extinguished prior to a first time viewing, and if noise annoys and staccato editing bugs you? Well stay away. Also don't line up if one demands great acting in a budget restricted piece such as this, since both Kley & Caulfield are adequate at best. But give it a go if you understand that a preposterous plot, and preposterous set pieces are a pre-requisite for horror films of this type. I say that since I've seen many comments decrying Darkness Falls for it's unbelievable elements - only to then search their other comments to find praise for even more ludicrously plotted pieces! Or give it a go knowing it's more about the creeping stalking menace side of horror, or that it's also an action thriller as well as an uneasy story. Maybe just maybe you will enjoy it for what it is? Otherwise I guess you will be looking forward to Hostel 22 or another Jason Attacks The Eiffel Tower movie... 7/10
RIP Chaney Kley, aged just 34.
I find it rather hard to believe that in the past year, we've had five movies dealing with vengeful supernatural spirits and/or curses. It began with Feardotcom, then Below, The Ring (easily the best of the bunch), Ghost Ship, and now Darkness Falls, which could very well be the worst. In the latest example of PG-13 horror, there's nothing here that's the slightest bit scary or thrilling. The atmosphere is non-existent, the premise really isn't very promising, and the execution is even more lackluster.
The film has a very simple premise: old lady killed over a hundred years ago is now a restless spirit who goes around murdering children who've lost their first tooth (they also have to see her face first, or something like that, not like the movie was holding my attention). Anyway, after the film dispenses with TWO prologues which takes up nearly fourteen minutes of running time, we settle with our protagonist, Kyle Walsh (Chaney Kley), who encountered this evil tooth fairy as a child and wants to help his former girlfriend's (Emma Caulfield) younger brother through the same ordeal. Naturally, no one believes Walsh and they'll live (well, not for long) to regret it.
Horror is probably my favorite genre, and while last year did give us The Ring (simply one of the scariest films I've ever seen) and Below (an excellent "ghost ship" thriller that's much better than Ghost Ship), most of these big studio genre offerings don't seem to realize what it is that makes horror films so fun to watch. They don't have to be bone-chillers, they just have to be easy entertainment, which is what Darkness Falls strives for, but fails at almost miserably.
First, I'd like to mention the preposterously short running time. Without the end credits, this puppy runs for seventy-four minutes, shorter than your average TV movie sans commercials. Then knock off the prologues, and we've got approximately an hour of material that focuses on the lead actors and their plight. This is obviously a movie that doesn't have much in the way of plot, but you probably figured that when you saw the town's name was Darkness Falls (groan).
The Ring worked because of its chilling atmosphere, engaging mystery, and fine performances. To a lesser but still formidable extent, the same goes for Below. Darkness Falls doesn't have the look and feel of a horror/thriller, it certainly doesn't have enough plot (and what story it has is peppered with plot holes)(you'd think a town this cursed would have almost a minute population, but it's a rather bustling little place), and the acting is subpar. Director Jonathan Liebesman seems perfectly content with trying to give us boo scares (which aren't the slightest bit effective), loud noises, lots of fast camera movements, and lots of running and chasing.
Running and chasing is exactly what fills up the movie's last twenty minutes, when it suddenly opts for thrill ride mode, but even that is as completely unengaging as all the material that came before it. Part of this has to do with how predictable the film is. You just know who's going to live and who's going to die. And even worse, because it's PG-13, you can't even be tantalized by the promise of gore and gratuitous nudity, two staples of 80's horror, which I'm starting to miss more and more.
The major studios are still capable of making effective horror thrillers, as evidenced by The Ring and Below, and let's not forget the superb Jeepers Creepers or Joy Ride. Watch any of those films instead of this steaming pile.
All the negative reviews on this film have me wondering if today's horror film aficionados are so jaded that they have forgotten that sometimes a visit to a fun house can be as much fun as spending an hour or two with Hannibal Lector. If you can give up your concept of needing to be hit over the head with shock, you can have a good time with the film. It's not a dog by any measure.
This is an old fashioned scary movie. It's a "Popcorn Film". It does not pretend to be high art. The tight running time is a credit the director. In short...it was not great, it was not bad, it was a fun little ride.
The producer spared no expense for a great script. The movie's eighteen-year-old high school scriptwriter wrote dialog such as this:
Shrill female actress: "Call the cops!" Dopey male actor: "They're dead." Shrill female actress (incredulously): "All of them?" Dopey male actor: "Pretty much."
So what happens at the end? Well, like every other horror and action movie over the last twenty years, the end takes place in a warehouse-like setting, in this case a lighthouse, which looks like a warehouse on the inside.
The main character, Dumbo the action hero, sets his arm on fire and uses the light from his burning arm to hurt her face. She's impervious to the twelve thousand bullets fired at her throughout the film, but her weakness is fire. That and teeth. Okaaaaaay.
Why watch Darkness Falls when you can watch the movies that inspired it: Alien and Pitch Black. There's nothing this movie has that wasn't already done a hundred times better.
But, it goes down hill after that. An unique idea gets turned into a boring slasher flick. It's PG-13, and there isn't a lot of blood, so that takes a lot away. There were way too many plot holes. Like if Kyle knew he wasn't crazy, then why was he taking the anti-psychotics. And plus, it makes no sense that he was able to never spend any time in the dark for years. But, when he goes back to his hometown, he's put in all these situations with no light. And the theme, stay in the light, is so old. The writers went the easy way out since they couldn't come up with anything better. And how does Kyle look so kept together since he's been in a psych ward for years. Yet he looks like he stepped off the cover of GQ.
FINAL VERDICT: Weak writing. No gore. Overall lame.
But the thing that's really disappointing is that the idea of an evil tooth fairy is actually cool. Everyone HATES going to the dentist. No one likes having teeth pulled, etc. There is an underlying built-in fear in all of us about anything having to do with teeth , and had the concept been handled better, it could have worked brilliantly. The concept is good but the execution is horrendous! This PG-13 movie never exploits this innate fear and the whole thing ends up being ridiculous and overwrought. The Brothers Grimm knew how to take something from our childhood that was innocuous and twisted it enough to make it look creepy & terrifying. Had the producers had a smidget imagination and had turned the story into a Grimm-like horror story, it would have worked.
It's truly a pathetic attempt at horror, certainly when filmmakers put children in jeopardy as recklessly as this one. The whole bland thing made me think that this was a "christian" produced horror film.
Don't lose your money and your time in it.
The acting was only as good as the script, which was pretty bad. We get another kid who tries to talk like an adult (most notably in his wishes for the Tooth Fairy to just get him rather than running away forever), and the rest of the cast is forgettable at best.
Scares in this movie are nonexistant. There are quite a few attempted boo-scares, but none of them work and can generally be seen a mile away. General eeriness is attempted through atmosphere, yet doesn't quite work due to the extremely quick, choppy pacing of the film.
This movie is supposed to be 85 minutes, which it may be if you count the previews before it. The pace was quick, but it had to be to fit into such a small timeframe. The entire movie felt like 10 minutes, unfortunately I wasted much more time than that. The movie is predictable, the creature is annoying with its high pitched screams, and the characters are paper thin. They had a good premise, but the execution was poorly done.
It is loaded with bad CGI effects. The acting is poor. There are no scares and no suspense. Trust me; you will get nothing from this film. Even if you are looking for exploitation elements, you'll find nothing. I have no unearthly idea why this film occasionally receives positive reviews. I believe when it first came out the IMDb rating was in the 6 range. Why? Now at least it has dropped into the 4's so that people can at least have some warning before wasting their money. Avoid at all costs.
A flawed, paint-by-numbers horror film that offers nothing new or fresh despite a decent monster, and muscular direction from Liebesman.