Darkness Falls (2003)

Director:  Jonathan Liebesman
Studios:  Revolution Studios, Distant Corner Entertainment Group Inc.
Starring:  Chaney Kley, Emma Caulfield, Lee Cormie; ft. Emily Browning
Tagline:  Every Legend Has Its Dark Side.
MPAA Rating:  PG-13
Genre:  horror, terror, thriller, suspense, ghost, mythical
Scare score:  D+
Rating:  C+

Plot overview:  In the small town of Darkness Falls, there is a local legend about a woman named Matilda Dixon.  A hundred years ago, she used to take children's baby teeth in exchange for a gold coin, earning herself the nickname "the Tooth Fairy."  But after sustaining horrible injuries in a fire, Matilda became an outcast, and following the disappearance of local children, she was hanged by a suspecting mob.  In her last breath, she placed a curse upon the town, swearing vengeance upon children losing their final baby tooth.
A hundred years later, young Kyle Walsh (Joshua Anderson) has just lost his final baby tooth.  When the legend of the Tooth Fairy turns out to be true, will older Kyle (Kley) ever be able to return home and face his fear of the dark?

My relationship with this movie is complicated and forces me to be somewhat biased.  13 and 14-year-old Horror Buff probably watched this movie about a hundred times with friends throughout the summer before freshman year.  The memories made during the hot summer days and nights with the AC at full blast while Horror Buff & Crew got scared (or didn't) has always left me very fond of this movie, although after recently re-watching I am now fully aware that Darkness Falls is amateur hour.

Let's start with the positive.  This movie poster is pretty sick, and I do like the tagline "Darkness Falls, Evil Rises."  Clever!  Furthermore, it's not that this movie isn't scary or that it has a bad plot, because, while there certainly are a lot of plot holes or just random advancements in action, plus a whole lotta' the stupidity principle ("Stay in the light!" "Okay but let me just step in the dark for a seco--"), the concept of this ghost strikes a chord with humans from all cultures: fear of the dark.  During the film itself, there are some pretty entertaining scenes and scares that take place between the growing shadows and shrinking sources of light.  This leads to some very suspenseful moments that many audiences are sure to enjoy.  Lastly, I do enjoy the ghost in this film, even if that guttural noise she makes is unnerving.  The creative team here had their fun playing with the mask trope - which admittedly in its contrasting, porcelain white, was pretty eerie - as well as her horrid, burnt face, which I was impressed by as far as the concept of a monster, ghost, or killer's face goes in the horror genre.  Hers may not be the most memorable face, but I think it's a good one.

Moving along... the progressing action in this movie is awkward at times.  Sometimes a kill is needed to spice up a dull moment, and then we're not even sure why we ended up there in the first place, other than to take up in more time in what is still an extremely short film.  Because of the lacking length of the movie, there is a noticeable speed that careful viewers will pick up on and question.  The script could have used more work, although it still manages to be entertaining in babble between various, even unnecessary characters.

What I liked least about this movie was that the character of Michael Greene (Cormie), while cute and important as a sort of modern-generation version of Kyle, had some sort of power of omniscience.  This kid should not have any special power; he simply suffers from night terrors ("or so they say.")  It makes no sense, then, that Michael knows so much about Kyle's past with the Tooth Fairy.  The fact that this is never explained and serves only to make Michael a bit creepier really irks me.  Horror Buff likes purpose and not cliches.

(Not so) Fun Fact: The star of this film, Chaney Kley, died of sleep apnea.  Or so they say.

Final critique:  This movie has a smeared rep as far as horror films go, but Horror Buff will still recommend Darkness Falls.  It's a great example of fun, playful, early 2000s horror, and in fact, to its own discredit, this movie takes itself a little too seriously.  While the scares are not overly scary, they still pack a punch that is sure to entertain and even frighten general audiences.  This is a nice choice for an evening in with a significant other on the couch, or for a group of young friends to watch at a late night horror movie session.  With a creative and pretty freaky ghost leading the thrills, this movie will at least put a toothy smile on your face.