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Darkness Falls (R)
Sony Pictures/Revolution Studios
Official Site
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Producers: John Fasano, John Hegeman, William Sherak, Jason Shuman
Written by: John Fasano & James Vanderbilt and Joseph Harris
Cast: Chaney Kley, Emma Caulfield, Lee Cormie, Joshua Anderson, Andrew Bayly, Antony Burrows, Emily Browning

Rating: out of 5

The city of Darkness Falls (What were the town founders thinking?) suffers from a terrible curse. Many generations ago an old spinster named Matilda bestowed gold coins upon children in exchange for their last baby tooth, but fate has dealt Matilda a bad hand. She is first burned in a fire and thus forced to wear a porcelain mask, both to protect her from painful rays of light and to conceal her grisly countenance. Then one day when two children don’t return from her house she is unjustly lynched by the panicky townsfolk. Matilda was understandably upset and vows to return from beyond the grave to claim the children of Darkness Falls on the night of losing their last baby tooth.

Fast forward to present time. Caitlin (Caulfield) asks her childhood sweetie of 12 years ago, Kyle (Kley), for help with her baby brother Michael (Cormie) who, like Kyle, is very afraid of the dark. The usual cast of caricatures round out the mix—the simple-minded cop, the double-crossing lawyer, and a legion of nameless townsfolk with a date with death. As chance would have it, the night these two targets are in town is the very same night the power goes out and Matilda goes on an indiscriminate killing spree with only our heroes to oppose her.

Darkness Falls makes every mistake possible in the genre. The dialogue is clichéd. Characters spout lines like “There is no reason to be afraid of the dark,” predictably right before Matilda strikes. Second-rate editing constantly undoes this movie, which alternately shows too much and then, in one scene where the screen is entirely black, too little. The gross-out factor is also sorely lacking. When Matilda swoops down and attacks, her victims simply disappear. A shower of visceral gore would have been far more satisfying and would have helped build suspense by reminding the audience of the lurking mortal danger.

At an under 90-minute running time the movie is mercifully short, but 90 minutes of what? Darkness Falls blatantly steals from The Ring, Pitch Black, and the Alien series among others, and hopes for a frightfest. Unfortunately it lacks the finer qualities of any of these films—no taut directing, no charismatic Vin Diesel, no H.R. Giger aliens, and most importantly no originality. Worst of all, the creature is not scary. The final scene, where Kyle quips “I see you bitch!” before punching Matilda’s ugly mug, produced a few unintentional laughs and felt more like Army Of Darkness (and not in that good way) than anything else. So what does one have to show for their 90 minutes? No thrills, no chills, and certainly no fun.

—Woodrow Bogucki


hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

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Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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