[box cover]

Darkness Falls: Special Edition

There oughta be a law, and it oughta be enforced with extreme prejudice. Darkness Falls offers the unfortunate spectacle of a decent horror film premise squandered. Expanded from a short comic book that forms the basis for the reasonably suspenseful opening sequence, the story attempts to place a sinister spin on the legend of the Tooth Fairy. For the purposes of this film, the "Tooth Fairy" is the vengeful, demonic incarnation of Matilda Dixon, a kindly old woman wrongly hanged over a century ago for supposedly killing two children (who later turned up, post-execution, unharmed). Ever since this fatal miscarriage of justice, the titular town has been haunted by her murderous spirit — which, legend has it, shows up to leave a coin under the pillow on the night one's last baby tooth is extracted. However, if a child should be unlucky enough to stir and catch a glimpse of the Fairy, their parents awaken to a college tuition spared. After an eerie prologue that imparts this backstory (courtesy of Imaginary Forces, better known as the folks behind the spooky opening to Se7en), we're introduced to Kyle Walsh, a junior high school kid who's just lost that last chopper. That night, he makes the mistake of coming eye-to-eye with the Tooth Fairy, but manages to elude her bony grasp by staying in the light (the monster's only weakness). His mother, however, is not so lucky; thus, since the local authorities are apparently unmoved by the mountain of open homicide cases coinciding with kids losing their last baby tooth, Kyle takes the fall for his mother's murder and is sent packing to a juvenile psychiatric facility. Up until that point, Darkness Falls is an acceptable little horror yarn, but this Jonathan Liebesman-directed feature flatlines the moment "12 Years Later" flashes on the screen, after which the only good news can be found printed in small type on the back of the DVD case: "Approx. 86 Minutes." The rest of the film concerns the adult Kyle (played to brooding imperfection by Mark Ruffalo impersonator Chaney Kley) being summoned back to town by his teenage sweetheart Caitlin Green (Emma Caufield), whose very young brother is being plagued by night terrors similar to those never experienced by Kyle when Caitlin last saw him over a decade ago. Never mind that minor lapse in plot logic, Kyle is something of a Tooth Fairy expert (or a matricide expert, depending on who's being asked), and he's got to get back to town to help shed light on the boy's malady. Never mind that he hasn't conquered his fears at all — he's heavily medicated, lives in a ridiculously well-lit apartment in Las Vegas (a potential gag the filmmakers fail to exploit), and carries around flashlights wherever he goes — or that the everyone in the entire town outside of Caitlin and her brother hates his guts; Kyle's clearly the go-to guy here. Sure enough, as soon as Kyle steps foot into Darkness Falls, the Tooth Fairy goes on a rampage, leaving bodies and plot holes in her wake. By the time the police come around to believing Kyle, they're wiped out en masse by the Fairy in a poorly shot station-house raid that leaves Kyle, Caitlin, and her brother to fend for themselves. Just when it seems the film's reached its pinnacle of ineptitude, it poops out at the 75-minute mark and pads out the rest of its running-time with 10 whole minutes of ludicrously drawn-out closing credits that stencil each cast and crew member's name in stylish infamy. Job well done, kids. Columbia TriStar presents Darkness Falls in an excellent anamorphic transfer (2.35:1), with a pan-and-scan option on the same disc and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Supplements include two filmmakers' commentaries (one with the director and producers, the other with two of the writers), two featurettes ("The Making of Darkness Falls" and a faux-documentary detailing "The Legend of Matilda Dixon"), storyboard comparisons, and eight deleted scenes (none of which, sadly, offer a glimpse of the initial creature design that was hastily scrapped after being met with titters from test-screening audiences). Keep-case.
—Clarence Beaks



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