For Splatterfest, Mek and I chose four movie options that we could watch-and-mock with our friends. Amusingly, the two runners up—Red State and The Crazies—easily had the most actual splatter of the four films. But when mockery is a key point of your evening, do you pick the movie about zombies, the movie about fundamentalist groups, or the movie about the evil tooth fairy?
Yeah. Clearly, we’re talking evil tooth fairy tonight.
In Darkness Falls, the legend of the toothy fairy is not a comforting one. She’s not a nice woman who wants to give you money. She’s not even Dwayne Johnson in a pink tutu. She’s actually a disfigured, vengeful ghost who kills anyone that sees her. When Young Kyle Walsh gets a good look at her messed up face, the Tooth Fairy first tries to kill him, and then succeeds in killing his mother. The cops think Young Kyle Walsh did it, of course, and they send him away.
Years later, his childhood sweetheart, Caitlin, calls Adult Kyle Walsh and asks him to come back home. She needs him to help her little brother, Michael, who’s intensely frightened of the dark just like Kyle was—well, is, really. And then the Tooth Fairy tries to kill them all. Happy days!
1. Why in the hell does anyone live in a town called Darkness Falls? For that matter, who the hell decided to name the town Darkness Falls in the first place? You know, John, this new little village of mine is really quite a pleasant place to live, but I haven’t quite figured out what to name it yet. Lately, I’ve been leaning towards Darkness Falls . . . what do you mean, that’s morbid and creepy? Fuck you, John, that’s what I think. See if YOU get any of Mary’s famed mutton stew tonight!
2. As far as the movie itself goes . . . it’s kind of boring, to be honest. I mean, it’s not a sheer and total disaster—it’s no My Soul to Take, is what I’m getting at here—but it has very little in the way of gore, scares, or compelling characters . . . compelling anything, truth be told. Darkness is a primal fear, sure, but having to stay in the light is hardly an original concept. It’s been done before, and frankly, it’s been done better. For example, in Pitch Black.
Even basic opportunities are missed here. For Christ’s sake, this is a horror movie about the tooth fairy. Where are the horrifying scenes about extracting teeth? Even Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, pitiful as it was, managed to get in at least one creepy teeth scene.
3. I expect the lack of hardcore gore stems from the fact that Darkness Falls is a PG-13 movie. There are some good PG-13 horror movies—hell, Poltergeist is only PG, for Christ’s sake—but so many PG-13 horror films suck something awful. They feel like they’ve been stripped of their dignity, somehow.
In a mostly unrelated note, I feel the need to point out that, according to our rating system, Double Dragon is a bigger threat to our children’s minds than Poltergeist. Good God. Who’s in charge of these decisions, anyway?
4. We spend about three minutes with Young Kyle and Young Caitlin before spending the rest of the film with Adult Kyle and Adult Caitlin. Young Kyle is played by Joshua Anderson, who guest-starred in Farscape as Crichton’s nephew, Bobby. Young Caitlin is played by Emily Browning, who’s probably best known for playing Baby Doll in Sucker Punch.
If Darkness Falls had featured these two, the movie would have been much better off.
5. Instead, we get the adult versions, Chaney Kley and Emma Caulfield.
Apparently growing up into adulthood leeches these characters of having, you know, character. Emma Caulfield isn’t so bad. She has a couple of nice little moments—I particularly like when she kind of freaks out and laughs about the black cat—but for the most part, she has absolutely nothing to do. And Chaney Kley, he really comes off as a poor man’s Ryan Reynolds in Darkness Falls. Out of everybody, he clearly has the most character to work with, but he doesn’t do anything with it. There are a million ways this guy could be played—focus on his terror, his angst, his possible psychosis—but Kley’s really just sort of there, and that makes him one of the more boring protagonists I’ve ever had to watch in a scary movie.
Also: it doesn’t help that these Kley and Caulfield have absolutely zero chemistry.
6. Caitlin’s decision making skills are sort of bizarre. It’s cool that she never really believed her first boyfriend was a psycho who killed his mother and all, but randomly calling in said boyfriend to help cure her tormented little brother without even doing some basic research on the guy? The dude’s been in a mental institution for years! This is the kind of stuff you should know before you’re all, “Can you come back home and fix my baby brother and also, take me hard, take me now, I never stopped loving you!”
The scene that especially gets me? The doctors want to put little Michael into a sensory deprivation tank, and just as they’re about to, Kyle comes bursting into the room, shouting that they have to stop. He kind of looks like a crazy person, and this perception is not negated by the fact that there are about five cops chasing him and subsequently shoving him into a wall. And Caitlin even knows, at this point, about the whole committed-to-a-mental-institution thing, but she’s immediately like, “Oh, well, if Kyle says to do it, then by golly, let’s do it! Fuck those stupid doctors! What the hell do they know, right?”
Oh, and about that sensory deprivation tank? Yeah. It’s very clearly just an MRI machine.
7. Now, Little Michael . . .
He’s actually rather annoying for a small child. Part of the problem is the dialogue. I’m guessing the kid is supposed to be anywhere from eight to ten, but some of his dialogue could have been written for an adult, especially in the first scene you meet him. Yet Michael has a lisp that makes him sound even younger, like five or six. I’m not certain if the lisp is genuine or not, but somehow, it doesn’t make him sound cute, just irritating. I don’t know. There’s just something kind of aggravating about this kid.
8. In a side note, was this movie made in Australia? All the kids are Australian. I just find that interesting.
9. Thankfully—and unlike My Soul to Take—the backstory of this movie is fairly straightforward. Of course, that isn’t to say that it’s particularly consistent when it comes to explaining the Tooth Fairy’s actions. Sure, she’s going after the guy who’s seen her face. But what about the poor bastard who she just swoops up from behind and flies away with? I don’t think he even had a chance to turn around, much less see what she looked like. And while I’m sure the Tooth Fairy, being a ghost, is not too terribly concerned with collateral damage, she does kill an awful lot of random people in her hunt for one guy and one kid.
10. Best lines in the whole movie?
Cop 1: “Batten, see what that was.”
Batten: “No, you go see.”
Cop 1: “I outrank you.”
Batten: “Lead by example and see what it was.”
Excellent, Batten. Wonderful survival skills. I approve.
11. There is a car crash in this movie. A character goes straight through a windshield . . . but never fear. He’ll only be down for a couple of minutes before getting right back up and running around some more. Everything is perfectly okay.
12. After the film was over, my friends and I were just kind of sitting around talking. We left the credits roll, and eventually we noticed that they seemed to be taking an awful long time to wrap up. According to imdb, we weren’t imagining things. The end credits on Darkness Falls are so long because if they had been any shorter, the movie wouldn’t have been long enough for theatrical release.
13. Finally, there’s this list of 100 Best Horror Movies I like to reference sometimes. Darkness Falls? Number 93.
Admittedly, that’s not high on the list, but . . . really? Why is it on there at all?
If there’s a local legend about an evil tooth fairy who kills you once you see her face . . . go to sleep blindfolded, okay?