Volume 96, Issue 67
Wednesday, January 29, 2003

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MOVIE REVIEW: Darkness Falls
Darkness: scary for all the wrong reasons

By Mark Polishuk
Gazette Staff

Darkness Falls
Starring: Chaney Kley, Emma Caulfield, Lee Cormie
Directed by: Jonathan Liebesman

Gazette file photo
"DON'T WORRY, KID, THERE WON'T BE A SEQUEL." Caitlin (Emma Caufield) comforts her brother Michael (Lee Cormie) in Darkness Falls.
The ghost of Matilda Dixon, an old woman unjustly hung in the small town of Darkness Falls 150 years ago, can only strike when the lights go out. Darkness Falls is similarly dangerous to audiences when the theatre lights go down, threatening to insult everyone's intelligence with a clichéd and poorly done horror movie.

Matilda targets children on the night they lose their last baby tooth, thus giving her the nickname of "the Tooth Fairy." Yep, that's right: the movie is asking us to fear the Tooth Fairy, which is pretty hard to do unless she's leaving bad cheques under your pillow.

One of these unfortunate kids who catches a glimpse of Matilda is 12-year-old Kyle Walsh (Joshua Anderson), and the ensuing melee results in the death of Kyle's mother. Flash forward 12 years later, when another child (Lee Cormie) is traumatized by the same "night terrors." His older sister Caitlin (Emma Caulfield) turns to her old friend Kyle, played as an adult by Chaney Kley, for help in understanding the problem. Kyle immediately sees that the spirit is back, and struggles to make people believe him.

Every horror movie has its "rules," but the good ones abide by them. Darkness, however, is utterly nonsensical. Matilda kills those who allegedly see her face, despite the fact that her face is covered throughout the film by a protective mask that makes her look like a supernatural Jacques Plante.

Matilda is vulnerable to light, and can therefore only move around in the "darkness," though this is a relative term. The ghost kills a lot of people who are standing in an inch of shade, while others (the main characters) run around swathed in the pitch black and are largely untouched. You would think that a ghost sensitive to light would be relatively easy to trap and kill, but then you'd be smarter than everyone in this movie.

First-time director Jonathan Liebesman, who must've got the job by winning a contest or something, makes the huge error of taking the material seriously. He casts an actress, Emma Caulfield, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a show that both uses and satirizes conventions of the horror genre at the same time. Some Buffy-esque tongue-in-cheek humour would have been very welcome in this film, which is almost completely bereft of intentional comic moments – though you'll often find yourself laughing at the film's ludicrousness. As a result, the actors look ridiculous trying to give credibility to this idiotic plot.

The film's lone redeeming factor is that it's only 75 minutes long, but unless you plan on coming back as a vengeful spirit, life is too short to waste on a pathetic movie like Darkness Falls.


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