Darkness Falls
Director: Jonathan Liebesman

Director: Joe Harris

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Lighthouse ghost stories include The Fog & remake (1980, 2005), Half Light (2006), Changeling (1979), Portrait of Jenny (1945), Tower of Evil (1972), Tormented (1960), & a great many others, with the theme spoofed in Hysterical (1983) & Scary Movie 3 (2003).

Darkness FallsDarkness Falls (2003) combines the lighthouse motif, rather incredibly, with the idea of the Tooth Fairy, plus the motif of executed witch's curse. The combination is not sewn together very smoothly, but at least it's not the "same old thang."

It's full of "Boo!" style startles induced by the soundtrack, & an animated tooth fairy hag ghost rather fun to see in her swirl of garments. But it's not actually as spooky or frightening as it should've been. By relying on loud noises more than actual event to make everyone jump, it earned a PG-13 rating, which for a horror film is tantamount to a tepidity warning.

It has a moody prologue culminating in the first shock, & a "big" climax inside the lighthouse with a load of FX. But the middle portion is all padding, & even at that Darkness Falls does not quite reach your average feature length.

Kyle (Chaney Kley) returns to his hometown of Darkness Falls, still haunted by unbelievable childhood memories of gloom & terror. As a kid he escaped the evil clawing clutches of Matilda Dixon, known as "the tooth fairy," a woman executed in a previous century.

Her vengeful spirit targets select children, but will also kill every adult who stands in the way of the chosen victim. Since a child has to see her face before she is empowered to cause harm, the childhood belief in protection by hiding under the covers & closing your eyes real tight actually does work. But if you do see her face, the jig is up, you're doomed.

Kyle is "on meds" either because his childhood experience drove him mad, or because people think he's mad for believing those experiences were real. If it's the latter he shouldn't be on the meds. The script doesn't seem to cover this adequately.

He's also presumedly been institutionalized for several years, but he's really not very eccentric, & doesn't seem like a guy who has until recently had his decisions made for him by other people. In fact he seems a bit like a male model poser instead of a recovering fruitcake. And I have to wonder at the incompetence of any psychiatrist who drugged & hospitalized him even if the doctors did believe he hallucinated strange stuff in childhood.

A lot of this padding is exactly that kind of ill conceived characterization & gives the film big demerits. Kyle's childhood friend Caitlin (Emma Caufield) has a baby brother Michael (Lee Cormie) who is hospitalized for extreme "night terrors." Kyle's the first person willing to confirm Michael's experience as real, his terror justified.

The nature of defeating the monstrous hag has no rational sense to it. She is in the main some kind of goblin spirit impervious to injury, unless at the given moment of the story it's decided she can be injured by teeth & maybe by bright light & fire. The tooth fairy angle is so little mined or developed that it sometimes seems the best part of the story must have gotten censored or lost.

A flawed, routine horror film, Darkness Falls nevertheless rises a bit above the level of shlock. This will mean it won't appeal to exclusive gore fans, but the attempt to tell a real story, however weakly achieved, made it satisfying for my tastes, given the typical competition in low budget horror.

The creative team responsible claimed studio interference & refusal to give them a decent budget undermined their chances for a better film, but I can think of a dozen young directors & screenwriters who could've done two or three better films with the eleven million dollars the Darkness Falls whiners were given.

Tooth Fairy Darkness Falls is the feature-length take-off from the short subject Tooth Fairy (2001) accosionally known by the longer title The Tooth Fairy: Every Legend Has a Dark Side.

It opened the door for its amateur director Joe Harris to leap from comic book scripting into film scripting, co-writing the screenplay for the feature.

On refresher viewing I found the short subject quite appealing, & because not padded out with lots of nonsense in the middle, better than the feature film version. At under five minutes, at least, it doesn't last long enough to get boring.

Mom (Catherine Overfelt) tells her son (Jordan Johansen), "Close your eyes. You're not supposed to see her," while putting his tooth in an envelope addressed to the Tooth Fairy & deposited under his pillow. But some shadowy bird-flapping through his room frightens the cat in his room, & the lad wakes up to see this magical creature in the gloomy spooky darkness.

Turns out tooth fairies reward good little boys, but punish bad little boys. Though we've no earthly evidence this kid is bad (indeed he seems an uncommonly good kid), he gets punished in a horrible way.

Pretty trivial overall, & hard to tell if the director intended it to be horrific or as the lame joke it comes off as. Bțut at under five minutes, it doesn't have time to get as boring as Darkness Falls.

copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl

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