Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Darkness Falls

"Evil Rises" is the tag line to Darkness Falls.  Is that supposed to be like "Spring Forward, Fall Back?"  What an awful slogan for a movie.  Do you know what would have been better?  Almost anything.  "Run to the light" would have been good (that took me literally seconds to think of), but even "What is that...a lighthouse?  This movie has a lighthouse?" would have made for a more intriguing movie poster than "Evil Rises."

Darkness Falls takes place in the small town of Darkness Falls, Massachusetts.  That's right, the movie is named after the town.  Who would give a town a horror movie name?  Seriously, they could not have asked for more trouble if the town was named "Gang Rape, Oklahoma."  Anyways.  Horror Movie, Massachusetts has a dark history that is told to us by way of a lengthy prologue.  Apparently, back in the day, a creepy old maid would give the local children cash money for their baby teeth (maybe their permanent ones, too, it doesn't specify) and is dubbed the Tooth Fairy for her good will toward children.  Aww.  But then a fire broke out in her home and she was horribly burned and became super sensitive to sunlight, so she only went out at night, and only with a Phantom of the Opera-ish porcelain mask on.  One day, two local boys went missing, so the townsfolk of You'll Regret This Later, Massachusetts came to the logical conclusion that the sweet but deformed Tooth Fairy must have kidnapped and killed the boys.  So they burned her alive and she cursed the town.  And then the boys were found, alive and unharmed, the next day.  Whoops.  Ever since, there has been a local superstition in Dahmer, Massachusets that when a child goes missing, find the nicest old lady in town and burn her alive.  Sorry, my bad, it's when a child loses their last baby tooth, the Tooth Fairy will come for it and anyone who sees her will get killed real good.  Just the last tooth?  So...that's kind of random. 

Yes, the Tooth Fairy is the bad guy, and yes, it is as scary as it sounds.  As in, not at all.  Kyle loses his last baby tooth and is stupid enough to look at Toothy.  He shines a flashlight on her, which fends her off and makes a break for the bathroom.  His mother hears the hubbub; he tells her that something's in his room, she doesn't believe him because all children are filthy liars, and she goes into his room to prove that he's wrong.  Here's a parenting tip for you, and no, I am not a parent: when your kid is afraid of something in the dark, try turning on the light.  It seems like a basic idea, but not following this gets Mommy killed by the Tooth Fairy.  Kyle, the only suspect in his mother's death, gets sent off to a psychiatric ward, the end.

No, that only took about twenty minutes.  That might make a mediocre Tales From the Crypt episode, but we have an awful motion picture to finish!  Twelve years later, Kyle's (Cheney Kley) crush, Caitlin (career TV actress Emma Caulfield, in her film debut), is having problems with her little brother, Michael.  Mikey won't sleep in the dark, is afraid of shadows, and insists that something in the darkness is out to get him. This reminds Caitlin of Kyle, so she calls him up and asks him to visit the hospital.  Kyle drops everything and goes because...well, just because, meets up with Caitlin and Mike, offers no practical advice aside from "don't put him in the dark," and goes out drinking with an aquaintance that he hasn't seen in over a decade.  At the bar, apparently every townie recognizes and remembers Kyle for "killing" his own mother, so one redneck decides to pick a fight and the two tumble into the woods.  The dark woods.  The rest of the movie involves Kyle saying "stay in the light," being ignored, and whoever Kyle spoke to gets yanked into the darkness, never to be seen again.

What a steaming pile.  This movie doesn't work.  On every basic level, it doesn't work.  The acting is almost nonexistent and the Australian accent of the supporting cast is noticeable in many scenes.  Cheney Kley has absolutely no charisma or range, which makes him perfect for a horror movie about the Tooth Fairy.  What a horrible villain.  If you want to see a scarier movie about the Tooth Fairy, rent the movie starring The Rock.  The dialogue is awful (best line: "The first time shouldn't taste like blood."  No, I'm not going to put that in context for you).  It's hard to judge the quality of Jonathan Liebesman's direction, since all he had to do was say, "Let's film some incoherent scenes about staying in the light."  Still, I will go out on a limb and say that his direction was wretched.  It's up to him to sculpt something watchable out of the awful script; it doesn't have to be good, but it can at least be suspenseful or even provide some startling/scary moments that modern horror movies are so fond of.  Liebesman totally fails to make this horror movie suspenseful or scary in the least bit.  There is no gore or nudity, which makes its awful qualities even more monotonous.  The Tooth Fairy just swoops in and grabs whoever dies next.  You're never sure how (or even if) they die, they are just gone.  The Tooth Fairy doesn't even have a designated set of powers.  When the script calls for her to be fast enough to fly and land on a speeding SUV, it happens; when it calls for her to chase someone on foot, it happens; when it calls for her to crawl on a ceiling for absolutely no reason...you get the idea. 

This movie had potential.  The prologue was decently effective, although it would have worked better if it was an urban legend told from one child to the next.  I think this would have been better if the Tooth Fairy had attacked the young Kyle instead of the adult one, too; making him an adult opens the door for a lot of complications that never pay off.  That might not have been a great movie, but it couldn't be worse than this.  The only thing that keeps me from giving this movie zero stars is the fact that it didn't stir a hatred deep in my soul, or a desire to punish the filmmakers for putting me through this movie.  It's awful, have no doubt, but it's not even good enough at being bad to make me care about it.

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