Darkness Falls – 20 Years of Pulling Teeth

There are not many memorable Horror movies about tooth fairies, or many at all to begin with. Of course, there are plenty of terrifying tales that use teeth as a point of horror whether it’s torture flicks à la The Dentist (1996) or Slashers that make it a point to cause the audience immense discomfort. Rarely do we see something where the point isn’t the shock value of a pained protagonist going through the motions of having their molars painfully removed for one reason or another, that’s where 2003’s Darkness Falls comes into the scene. Released on January 24, 2003, this film didn’t exactly break the mold, but wasn’t anything to scoff at either with its great use of cinematography and cheap jump scares.

Darkness Falls / Sony Pictures Releasing (2003)

Now celebrating a 20th anniversary, Darkness Falls’ opening scene is a cautionary tale that takes place 150 years ago in Darkness Falls, Maine. Said town is under the curse of Matilda Dixon, AKA “The Tooth Fairy.” Dixon was a beloved woman in town before being wrongfully accused and hanged for the disappearance of two children, only to previously have been horrifically scarred in a house fire and only being able to go out at night wearing a porcelain mask so no one can see her disfigured face. With her dying breath, she curses the town: “What I took before in kindness, I will take forever in revenge.” Effectively terrorizing anyone who dares look at her as she picks up the final baby teeth of the children in town.

Jonathan Liebesman’s directorial debut opened to less-than-desirable reviews from critics, but Horror fans weren’t quite as harsh about the film, many of which consider the movie boring and cliché. Darkness Falls nevertheless provides an entertaining watch that exudes early to mid-2000s Horror goodness and nostalgia that you only got during that time period of horror. Liebesman would go on to direct mid-tier works like 2006’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning on a similar budget of $14,000,000 to Darkness Falls $11,000,000 and 2011’s Battle: Los Angeles with a $70,000,000 with Darkness Falls being one of his most memorable works.

One certainly unique characteristic of Darkness Falls is that it opens up with a second prologue that sets the movie up for “present-day” action in which a young Kyle Walsh (Joshua Anderson: Farscape series, Wonderland series) is visited by his crush Caitlin Greene (as young Caitlin – Emily Browning: Suckerpunch 2011, Pompeii 2014), (as present-day Caitlin – Emma Caulfield: Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, WandaVision series) is warned about his final baby tooth and is subsequently terrorized by the vengeful spirit of Matilda Dixon in which his mother isn’t so lucky to survive while Kyle hides in a brightly lit bathroom as Dixon hovers around the doorframe. Dixon’s sounds that are heard throughout the movie are of an elderly woman’s groans slowed down and sped up.

Darkness Falls / Sony Pictures Releasing (2003)

What continues on for the next hour or so is where we see Liebesman’s want to film a drama rather than a horror with cliché scenes such as bar room brawls with an evil tooth fairy twist and overly dramatic arguments with townspeople who haven’t forgiven or forgotten what happened 12 years earlier assuming Kyle was the one who killed his mother and an infuriating amount of gaslighting in almost every character interaction, especially when it comes to Caitlin Greene having issues with her younger brother Michael having a bad case of insomnia.

The movie abruptly jumps to older Kyle Walsh (Chaney Kley: Legally Blonde 2001, The Shield series) where we get our first hit of musical nostalgia, Look Out Below” by Closure as Kyle fervently checks and replaces dozens of flashlight batteries like something out of the video game Alan Wake. After a decades-long reunion with Caitlin, it becomes Kyle’s job to help her brother Michael and the entire town of Darkness Falls which is then engulfed in darkness after a thunderstorm and gives Matilda free rein to torment the town and take out anyone who dares step out of the light and into the dark. Kyle, being the only one in town that has experience fighting this spirit, leads the townspeople who previously didn’t trust or even believe a word he said on a dark and perilous journey with exciting near misses.

Considering the great lineup of Horror movies to choose from in 2003 such as House of 1000 Corpses, Jeepers Creepers 2, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and some more campy fun Horror such as Dead End, Darkness Falls has found a way to stick with us for 20 years and has contributed to many people’s fear of the dark or enforcing an already established fear.

Darkness Falls / Sony Pictures Releasing (2003)

Not to say this movie is without fault and has gaping plot holes and leaves viewers with more questions than answers, but it’s still a great watch if you can suspend your disbelief for an hour and a half (minus 11 minutes for credits to bolster the runtime of the film for a theatrical release), this simple movie makes for a fun and thrilling watch that you probably won’t forget as we haven’t forgotten for the last 20 years.

Darkness Falls / Sony Pictures Releasing (2003)

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