Review By: Fusion3600 | January 28th, 2012
Plot: What’s it about?
As a child, Kyle Walsh (Chaney Kley) heard all the stories about Matilda Dixon, the woman who used to be known as The Tooth Fairy. She was kind to all the children of Darkness Falls, but when a tragic turn of events turned up some dead kids, the locals focused their suspicions on Dixon herself. After surviving a fire, Dixon was unable to tolerate bright lights, but she found her end when she was lynched the residents of Darkness Falls. She cursed the town and its children however, a curse which manifested through her vengeful spirit. When a child loses the final baby tooth, legend claims she comes and if the child looks at her, the spirit will unleash her wrath upon the youngster and anyone else standing in her path at the time. When Kyle lost his last tooth, he tried not to look, but the strange noises made him curious. He looked right into Dixon’s eyes and thus began his lifetime of fear and paranoia. He survived that night, but his mother was killed and most locals believe he was responsible for her death. Now in Las Vegas, Kyle is surrounded by light at all times, even as he sleeps. But he is called back to Darkness Falls by his old friend Caitlin (Emma Caulfield), whose baby brother is having the same problems as Kyle. He agrees to return home, but can he survive another encounter with Matilda Dixon?
I have read some harsh reviews on this one, but then again, its a horror movie and as such, you have to expect such attacks. As a fan of the genre, I find myself going to the theaters to see any horror related pictures, even ones that look weak. I admit that Darkness Falls is no masterpiece, but I had fun with it and to me, that counts for a lot. Yes, we’re asked to make some stretches in faith and the movie treads on thin ice at times, but it offers some great atmosphere. The tone is dark, as you can imagine and unlike most recent horror pictures, Darkness Falls stays in the straight lane, which is a welcome change of pace. There are some brief moments of humor, but this is a serious movie in most instances, which is one of the knocks from some folks. I know humorous horror is fun, but sometimes you want a more traditional effort, a movie that maintains a dark atmosphere and gives you the spooks. And even with its flaws, Darkness Falls turns out to be an eerie, atmospheric film that delivers some solid chills. The cast is decent, though young Lee Cormie is often out of place, which slows down the movie a shade. This is no classic, but it is a fun movie and if you’re a fan of the genre, then give Darkness Falls a look. Columbia’s disc is quite good too, so a rental or purchase would be justified.
The cast of Darkness Falls is kind of odd, as there is no marquee talent involved, instead we have a band of lesser known performers. Chaney Kley (Legally Blonde, The Skin Horse) is more than solid in the lead role, as he brings a real sense of desperation to the role. The character has lived a life of total fear and precaution, which is bound to result in some mental issues and Kley is able to get those issues across. But he keeps the character sane and even smart, as that paranoid lifestyle would give him a kind of edge, since he has always taken care to stay out of darkness and all that jazz. His performance is by no means excellent, but he is good here and more than does the character justice. Emma Caulfield (Tv’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer) provides some nice eye candy, as well as a solid effort. She isn’t given much to do, but once the movie starts toward the conclusion, she gets more time on screen. The weak link here seems to be Lee Cormie (Tv’s Worst Best Friends), who is eerie, to be sure, but is unable to do much else. I know it seems like every spooky movie these days has a small child, thanks to the success of the original Ring, but perhaps its time to leave the kiddies at home.
Video: How does it look?
Darkness Falls is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, with a pan & scan edition also included on this dual layered disc. I had concerns about how this movie would look, since the visuals are bathed in darkness. But Columbia has done some good work here, though the inclusion of a pan & scan version lessens the experience. If you take out the pan & scan edition, I think the visuals would be enhanced and more refined. As it stands, black levels seem a tad light at times and in this case, that’s bad news. The contrast remains solid and acceptable, but since this movie has so much darkness, its still quite obvious. The print is in excellent condition however, with zero grain evident and no sign of debris I could detect. I found colors to be muted, just as intended, though some hues come across in bold form at times. This still manages to be a great visual presentation, but it could have been better.
Audio: How does it sound?
The video presentation here is good, but the audio is even better, a fine example of how good a horror movie soundtrack can be. The premise lends itself to immense tension and atmosphere, which are enhanced by the included Dolby Digital 5.1 option. The surrounds kick hard and often, even in more reserved sequences. But the gloves come off in the assorted chase sequences, which is when the surrounds get down to business. The speakers use power, range, and depth to put you in the middle of it all, with excellent results. I found the LFE use to be superb also, as it has some serious punch in numerous scenes. The noises made by Matilda stand out to me, as the surrounds ensure her voice envelops the audience. The dialogue is clean and clear also, with no volume balance problems to report. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as subtitles in English and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc has some good supplements, such as not one, but two audio commentary tracks, both worth a listen. The first track is with director Jonathan Liebesman, producers William Sherak & Jason Shuman, and screenwriter James Vanderbilt, while the second session features writers Joe Harris and John Fasano. These tracks are packed with behind the scenes insights, as minimal silence is found in either session. As Harris penned the original story, I found his comments to be the most enjoyable, but both tracks are terrific inclusions. This disc also includes a promotional behind the scenes featurette, some storyboard comparisons, a selection of deleted scenes, and a featurette on the legend of Matilda Dixon.
- (2.35:1) Aspect Ratio
- Video Codec: MPEG-2
- Audio: Dolby Digital
- Theatrical Trailer
- Audio Commentary
- Deleted Scene(s)
- Digital Copy
- 1 Disc Set