“‘Darkness’ Falls Apart”
by Scott Mantz

“Darkness Falls”
Emma Caulfield, Chaney Kley
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman

Going down! Emma Caulfield and Chaney Kley face the horror in “Darkness Falls”

It’s common knowledge that January is the worst month of the year for quality movies, and it makes perfect sense. With most of the country finally getting the chance to see the highly-touted Oscar contenders that opened the previous month in New York and Los Angeles, the major studios pretty much see January as a dumping ground for crappy new releases that don’t stand a chance anywhere else.

Case in point is the teen horror flick “Darkness Falls.” How this painfully terrible film (even by January standards) got a theatrical release is beyond me, since it isn’t even worth the celluloid it’s printed on. On the other hand, if you like cheap thrillers that don’t make any sense, are poorly acted, are not very scary, and have terrible dialogue, then this one is for you.

The legend of the Tooth Fairy has been haunting the seaside town of Darkness Falls for more than 150 years. Kyle (Chaney Kley) first saw the evil spirit when he was a kid after it brutally murdered his mother, but he moved away rather than deal with the painful memories. When the young brother of his childhood sweetheart (Emma Caulfield) starts having the same nightmares, Kyle returns home to confront his demons and release the town from its deadly curse once and for all.

It seems somehow appropriate that the killer haunting Darkness Falls is called the Tooth Fairy, since actually sitting through the film is as painful as having to endure root canal without any Novocain. That’s too bad, since the first 10 minutes are actually pretty scary. There’s some effective narrative over the opening credits to set the mood by explaining how the legend came to be, and young Kyle’s first experience with the demon provides some cheap-but-effective scare tactics to make you jump out of your seat.

Unfortunately, it all goes downhill from there, as Kyle is now so afraid of the dark that he arms himself with a bag full of flashlights (a preposterous sight to be seen). Once he returns to Darkness Falls, it doesn’t take long for his life to be in danger, but you don’t really know enough about him—or anyone else for that matter—to care about what happens next. On top of that, incredibly huge plot holes destroy any suspension of disbelief, and the flashy, hyper-kinetic direction makes it awfully difficult to understand what’s happening.

We quickly learn that the only way to avoid the Tooth Fairy is by staying in the light, and when Kyle and Co. are faced with running through a dark tunnel to escape the spirit, one of the doomed characters sarcastically says “it just keeps getting better and better.” Don’t you believe it. “Darkness Falls” gets worse by the minute, making its brief running time (of about 75 minutes) as painful as can be. Trust me folks, this is one film that will surely end up as one of the worst of the year. And it’s only January.