Darkness Falls (VHS, 2003)

21 ratings (17 Epinions reviews)
Epinions Product Rating: OK
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Perhaps My Dentures Are A Blessing In Disguise....

Jan 10, 2004 (Updated Jan 10, 2004)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Inventive concept, some nice "jumps"

Cons:plot is a little awkward, there is some poor editing

The Bottom Line: Maybe a little clumsy, but it has some good bits. It's worth seeing, but won't make any Top 10 Best lists.


Tolerant as she is, my wife balked at the idea of my bringing a dozen flashlights to bed. Her request for an explanation ("What on earth are you doing NOW, Hugh?")and my subsequent reply "I've just seen the movie Darkness Falls and I'm sure I've peeked at the tooth fairy as a boy, because she sure looks almost exactly like your mother" resulted in my banishment to the sofa, which is par for the course, I guess. I'm not entirely sure the banishment was due to the mother remark or because I was holding one of the flashlights up to her nose while she slept, just to make her nose look pink.

But anyhow....

I'll give points at the very beginning to this movie for an inventive concept. My esteemed fellow-reviewers mostly weren't very impressed by the idea of the monster of the film being the spirit of an old lady who, 100 years previous to the story had been affectionately given the nickname "Tooth Fairy" by the children of Darkness Falls because whenever they lost a tooth, they could bring it to her for a gold coin. On a tragic day, the legend went, her house caught fire and she was horribly burned, and because her hideously scarred face was so sensitive to light thereafter, she could only go out at night wearing a porcelain mask.

One evening a pair of children dissapeared and the jumpy town blamed the old lady and dragged her out of her home, and publicly executed her. As she died, she left her curse upon the town; "That which I took in kindness I will now take in vengence."

From this sprang the Darkness Falls version of the legend of the Tooth Fairy always with the jesting warning "Don't peek when the Tooth Fairy comes to you."

Jumping ahead numerous decades, we meet "Kyle Walsh" the movie's protagonist as a teen boy who has just shed his last baby tooth. Kyle's girlfriend-to-be Caitlin teases him to not peek when the tooth fairy comes, of course, and as night falls upon the town of Darkness Falls, the Tooth Fairy arrives, and Kyle peeks,and is treated to the sight of the black-cloaked wraith in the porcelain mask in the movie's first sweet "jump sequence", and the tooth fairy attacks.

Kyle's life is saved by his hiding in a brightly-lit bathroom (the tooth fairy can't enter the light)but his mother is killed, and Kyle is escorted away by the police to begin a life of foster homes and psychiatric institutions until adulthood, while the town believes he killed his mother.

Jump to the present; Kyle is living in Las Vegas, carries a bag full of flashlights, and is in constant fear of darkness. He receives a call from Caitlin, whose little brother Michael is in the hospital suffering from night terrors, is very afraid of the dark,afraid that a lady is going to get him in the dark. Kyle returns to Darkness Falls to help Michael, and our plot is set up, and the story is launched.

I'm reminded actually of "Grimm's Fairy Tales"; the originals, not the watered-down versions we see in the children's books today. You want morbid and eerie? How about Cinderella's step-sisters chopping off parts of their feet to try to force on the slipper that doesn't fit? Or Rumpelstiltskin (let's see the Epinions spell-checker have fun with THAT) literally tearing himself in two when the miller's daughter learns his name? The legend of the Tooth Fairy in Darkness Falls is set up in the same whimsical yet dark manner, and that, my friends, works much better than my fellow Epinionators would have you think. To their credit, it's not entirely their fault; it's a great concept, but the movie only does a mediocre job of carrying it along.

It appears Michael is indeed the target of the malevolent Tooth Fairy; and since he has returned to Darkness Falls, so is Kyle. I don't feel the need to share the plot further than that; it's time to take a look at what works and what doesn't.

Kyle as an adult is played by Cheney Kley, who does what I would call an adequate job. He certainly looks tense and high-strung most of the time, and portrays a man freaking out in the face of unseen (or rather, barely seen) evil very well. His performance in calmer scenes is a little stiff,perhaps, but he has more depth than a score of the other characters, such as the stereotypical bullying police force and the cold and unfeeling hospital staff.

Caitlin Greene is brought to life by Emma Caulfield of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame; she's carried a torch for Kyle over the years since he left Darkness Falls, but you really can't tell by looking; there's no real chemistry between these two. She looks good, she conveys her concern about her brother well and her desperation to find some help for him, and her character reveals a nice bit of strength under fire,and beyond that, there isn't much. I liked her gentle scenes and the core of iron, she did those well. Unfortunately, there needed to be more to it than that.

The boy Michael is played by Lee Cormie. One of my fellow reviewers pointed out that he's no Haley Joel Osment, and truthfully, he isn't, but given the role he had to work with, he did remarkably well; the kid looked absolutely miserable, terrified, and ready to pee himself when about to be placed in a sensory deprivation tank. Nice job by someone I've never heard of before.

For the rest of it; Matilda the Monster...er...Tooth Fairy has some nice chilling moments flying in and out of light and darkness, it's a shame, however, that the timing of these moments is a little "off"; there are plenty moments where the sudden jump scene is anticipated and sure enough, there it is. There are moments when it works, and those are good moments indeed. If anything, the face make-up is remeniscent of Freddy Krueger, but it works.

The movie also suffers from some poor editing; there are some continuity lapses between the monster's storming the police department and the final confrontation in the Darkness Falls lighthouse building. The final fate of Monster Matilda is left wide open for sequel.

So, it's a little weak; some of what should work as far as plot and character development and light-and-shadow frights are poorly paced and awkward; yet there are some fine chills and good bits. It's worth at least a four star rating for originality of creature, but balances out to three, which is what I've given it. It's worth seeing, and will leave you thinking about the possibilities of what it could be like.

Yours until Leprechauns attack in something called "St. Patrick's Day Horror-They're After YOUR Lucky Charms"

-Hugh U. Kidden


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