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IN SHORT: Not a bad thriller at all. Far less gore than you'd expect from the genre, too! [Rated PG-13 for terror and horror images, and brief language. 85 minutes]
Once upon a time, sweet old lady Mathilda Dixon would give the kidlets of the New England town of Darkness Falls a gold coin in exchange for their last baby tooth. She ceased her gift giving when the town lynched the old bat and burned the corpse after two kidlets went a-missing. The kids were just lost in the woods, dontcha know, and the spirit of Ms. Dixon has hung over the embarrassed town as an "unrelenting evil that has plagued the town of Darkness Falls for more than one hundred fifty years."
Of course, if that unrelenting evil had behaved for a hundred fifty years as she does in the eighty five minutes or so of the movie Darkness Falls, the town of Darkness Falls wouldn't have lasted a hundred fifty years. So we'll overlook that and commend the filmmakers for going heavy on the thrills and light on the slice 'n' dice in this production, which begins with the old bat taking out the loving mother of nine year old Kyle Walsh (Joshua Anderson).
Twelve years later, Kyle (Chaney Kley) is called back to his hometown -- his foster folks lived in Las Vegas -- by childhood sweetheart Caitlan Green (Emma Caufield), whose younger brother Michael (Lee Cormie) has inadvertently unleashed Evil upon the town. How the town has survived a hundred fifty years of Evil Unleashed once every kid loses his or her last tooth isn't revealed in the story but, other than that, what plays out is a pretty good close to the edge of your seat scareflick. True, it only pulled one audible scream from our viewing audience, but there was a significant cheer when the wicked witch of the, uh, North came face to face with the impending doom that comes with closing credits.
The gimmick is that the old bat only comes out in the dark -- light is her particular kryptonite -- and her reemergence as a murderous force in the community occurs just as Kyle is called back home. He, of course, is immediately arrested for murder -- he obviously snuffed mom think the local gendarmes -- which brings potential fodder to be defense attorney Larry Fleischman (Grant Piro) into our cast of characters. Yeah, it's dumb and silly but, given all the rest of the crap we've suffered through this month, we didn't mind dumb and silly.
Unlike most slice 'n' dicers, the survive-ability or impending death of all but the central character isn't a given in Darkness Falls. Then again, and we'll repeat ourselves, this ain't no slice 'n' dicer. The cast size isn't big enough to generate a monster body count, though the most effective kill spree comes with our hero conveniently found in its midst. Heh heh heh. Those in our audience that were expecting fountains of blood went running for the exit before the final scene played out. They didn't miss much but Darkness Falls was far better than that sentence would imply. If you know how particularly bloody you like your scareflicks, you've got all the implied info you need.
But then at least half of our packed house whipped out their cell phones to text messages to their pals. Totally inappropriate (even in a free screening) but fairly indicative that they didn't like it. They're not us and we didn't have the same problem.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Darkness Falls, he would have paid . . .
Given the fact that we wouldn't get on line for almost any scareflick we found Darkness Falls to be a particularly effective one.
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