Actually, Darkness Falls is the name of a small Maine town that's cursed by a vengeful spirit. One hundred years prior, Matilda Dixon played tooth fairy for the community's little ones. For her troubles, Dixon was hanged from the gallows and burnt to a crisp on the charge of suspicion when two children disappeared. From that point on, Dixon's ghost has haunted the youth of Darkness Falls, claiming their baby teeth in the dead of night.
Kyle Walsh (Chaney Kley) survived his encounter with this beast the night he lost his last tooth, though his mother wasn't so lucky. Accused of murder by skeptical law officers, Walsh then spent time in and out of juvenile delinquent facilities and foster homes. Twelve years later, he's called home by his ex-girlfriend, Caitlin (Emma Caulfield), because her younger brother Michael (Lee Cormie) is experiencing the same crippling night terrors Kyle suffered years before. Sounds like someone's fearin' the fairy!
Suspend your disbelief long enough (and I'm talking a transcontinental stretch), and Falls twirls a clever premise. Too bad director Jonathan Liebesman completely ignores it. Everyone from kids to adults eventually winds up at risk, whether they've lost a tooth or not. The guidelines Falls lays out are obliterated as Liebesman proceeds with the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the forehead. Imagine reels of footage shot by a cameraman with the shakes that gets edited in a blender, and you'll have a general idea of the look Liebesman achieved.
Questions raised by the film's foundation go unanswered by the irrational screenplay. For instance, why would anyone continue to live in Darkness Falls? If all the kids were being picked off by a rogue tooth fairy, wouldn't the population be zero after, say, 25 years? And if the power is out in a hospital, would the elevator still work? Well, that's just nitpicking a particularly ridiculous plot turn, but you'll find out for yourself.
Falls manages some "bump in the night" scares early on, but the thrills get cheaper and less effective as the film progresses. Instead of cowering in my seat, I was doing the math on Caulfield - who turns 30 in April - having a brother who looked to be about eight years old. Physically possible, sure, but a bit of a stretch.
Performances across the board are so flat you could pour water on this cast and a puddle would form. Grant Piro, playing Walsh's childhood rival Larry Fleishman, leads the pack in a cast of terrible actors. His lines are delivered with the sincerity of a used car salesman. Young Cormie demonstrates the inexperience that comes with age.
Blasé and lifeless, Falls works as well as a flashlight with no batteries. Did I mention it's only 76 minutes long? That's almost network TV worthy. They should charge people less to enter the theater, though anyone who willingly pays for this drivel deserves to get screwed.
See? She uses all those teeth.
Run time: 86 mins
In Theaters: Friday 24th January 2003
Box Office USA: $32.0M
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Releasing
Production compaines: Revolution Studios, Distant Corners Entertainment Group Inc., Blue Star Productions, Village Roadshow Pictures, Morningstar Films
Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 9%
Fresh: 12 Rotten: 115
IMDB: 4.9 / 10
Director: Jonathan Liebesman