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Movie Review

Kyle Walsh is terrified of the dark. He’s spent nine years in a mental hospital, taken enough antipsychotics to transform an elephant, and purchased so many flashlights and lamps that he can turn the darkest night into high noon. Why’s Kyle so scared? Because he knows that just beyond that beam of light lurks ... the Tooth Fairy. Once upon a time, the Tooth Fairy was a caring old woman from the town of Darkness Falls. Her name was Matilda Dixon, and she happily gave children coins for their teeth. Then one tragic night, Matilda’s house caught fire, leaving her face horribly scarred and so sensitive to light that she could only venture outside at night. When two children went to visit her and didn’t return home, the townspeople lynched her, suspecting foul play. With her dying breath the innocent woman cursed the town, pledging revenge and promising to visit the children of Darkness Falls on the night they lose their last tooth. Kyle knows the story is more than fable. He watched the Tooth Fairy brutally murder his mother the night he spat out his last baby tooth. Little Michael Green, brother of Kyle’s childhood love, Caitlin, is a believer as well—so much so that he only sleeps in 10 minute snatches and refuses to be in the dark. Kyle has pledged to help Michael and Caitlin, but there’s only one thing they can do to keep the vengeful spirit at bay: Stay in the light.

positive elements: Caitlin rarely leaves Michael’s side after he enters the hospital due to his night terrors. Both Caitlin and Kyle go to great lengths to ensure Michael’s safety and healing. Kyle returns to Darkness Falls to meet with Michael, despite the fact that it poses quite a risk, both from the Tooth Fairy and the bitter locals who think he killed his mother.

spiritual content: The reality of curses and angry spirits who prey on the living is central to Darkness Falls’ spiritual worldview. Somehow, Matilda’s spirit still manages to terrify the inhabitants of Darkness Falls 150 years after her death. One line blames "fate" for Matilda’s unfortunate maiming and hanging. Other spiritual content includes a statue of a saint at a Catholic hospital and a cross necklace that Caitlin wears.

sexual content: As children, Kyle and Caitlin share a couple of kisses. A man spills a beer on a woman in a bar which causes her shirt to cling to her. Caitlin wears a tight tank top in one scene.

violent content: As enraged poltergeists are wont to do, Matilda is constantly swooping in on some poor soul who refuses to "stay in the light," carrying him off to be brutally murdered. Audiences see deep lacerations on the bodies of her victims. A policeman shows Kyle gory pictures of a murdered person. Another officer hits him in the face. Blood glistens darkly on the body of Kyle’s dead mother (during her murder and in flashbacks). Bodies are dropped from trees onto unsuspecting passersby. Nurses and doctors are plucked up by the Tooth Fairy during a power outage. Similarly, a darkened police station becomes a slaughterhouse with Matilda killing officers as they blast at her with guns. Two men are torn from their cars and killed by the spirit. The Tooth Fairy severs an elevator’s cables, causing the car to plunge several stories. Both Kyle and Michael have bloody wounds from their encounters with the Tooth Fairy (Michael leaves behind a gory handprint as he hides). A drunk picks a fight with Kyle for allegedly murdering his mother and the confrontation turns into a brawl. People are injured when their car rams a tree. Kyle pulls a gun on an uncooperative man. A narrator describes Matilda’s painful death in detail. [Spoiler Warning] In order to defeat the Tooth Fairy, a man sets his arm on fire and thrusts it into Matilda’s disfigured face, causing her to ignite and explode.

crude or profane language: About half-a-dozen uses of the s-word and one appearance of the f-word, along with about 10 milder profanities. Jesus’ name is abused five times.

drug and alcohol content: Kyle takes four different medications to control his depression. Several people drink in a bar. Kyle turns down a beer because of the side effects it would cause with his medication.

other negative elements: Darkness Falls is anything but a happy movie. Michael contemplates allowing the Tooth Fairy to kill him, rationalizing that death would be better than living with such debilitating fear. One scene shows Michael struggling and crying out as he’s injected with a painful sedative. Kyle tells a lie at one point to try and encourage the boy, but his efforts are in vain. Michael’s facial expressions run the gamut from paranoid to depressed to out-and-out terrified.

conclusion: Following quickly on the heels of They and The Ring, Darkness Falls is the latest entry into the burgeoning PG-13 horror genre. Instead of Technicolor gore dripping from butchered co-eds, these films rely on jump-in-your-seat surprises to supply fear. Their cameras merely glimpse gruesome beasties and macabre images instead of dwelling on them. Profanity dips from high double digits to low. Think of them as "terror-lite," films that seek to scare while cashing in on the lucrative teen demographic via a permissive rating. The result is dismal. While the cinematography of Darkness Falls is occasionally interesting, its script succumbs to cliché after cliché. Note to future characters: If you’re being chased by a ghost/monster/psychopath, never let the words, "We’re safe!" cross your lips. If you do, you’re certain to die on the spot. And if light is the only thing that can save you from a murderous being, be sure to pack extra batteries for your flashlight since it’s guaranteed to flicker and fade at the least opportune moment. Note to moviegoers: You’d do better to slip your movie money under your pillow hoping for extra teeth than give it to the creators of Matilda Dixon.


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