Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Review: Darkness Falls (2003)

Director: Jonathon Liebesman
Starring: Bland white people!

“The first time shouldn’t taste like blood.”

There are some things that just aren’t scary, and you can’t write a believable movie about these things no matter how hard you try and actually get it to scare anybody, no matter how good the writing or acting is. Like the Tooth Fairy. You can’t possibly write about the TOOTH FAIRY and have it be scary or well written in any sense. Fortunately, Darkness Falls doesn’t even try at either of those, and thus we’re graced with another whimsically destructive holocaust of everything that the horror genre tried so hard to create with this completely horrible film. And I think that was my cue.

Our movie opens with a backstory so silly that it just had to be narrated by a hokey British accent. Apparently there’s a town called Darkness Falls, if you can believe that (I thought the title was a reference to, well, darkness falling…), and in that town there was a lady called the Tooth Fairy, who gave kids gold coins whenever they lost their teeth. Well, I sure hope she had a nice income to support herself even with all of that frivolous spending going on! Apparently she got burned in a fire and had to wear a porcelain mask from then on. When two kids went missing, the first person the town suspected was the Tooth Fairy, even though there was no evidence that supported that theory, and they killed her. The boys were found the very next day.

Oops! So sorry we killed a lady without even bothering to ask questions. Durr! I guess reason and logic are just thrown out the window when there’s somebody around who isn’t a round peg in the hole of what people consider normal. I thought there was a thing called tolerance or understanding or something; I guess not. But at least she now haunts people who lose their last tooth. I guess that’s comeuppance enough, even though those kids had nothing to do with her murder. Do you ever notice that these supernatural revenge plots never make sense?

So then we flash forward to another time, where a kid named Kyle is losing his last tooth. After his mom kisses him goodnight, a gender ambiguous child sneaks into the house, and invites him to come do something. He declines, and then they have a romantic moment, because even though he looks about five years older than her, he’s apparently taking her to a dance that weekend as his date. And they kiss a couple times. Yeah. Didn’t you ever have these romantic, spontaneous nightly drop-ins from girls you liked when you were 10 years old? Gee, it’s almost like this movie is whimsical or something.

Yeah, same age? I think not. But hey, who am I to obstruct young love?
Then she leaves, he goes to sleep, and wakes up to this:

…well I have to say, I’m glad the movie showed us that. Now there is absolutely no doubt that it will NOT be scary at all! So he goes and gets his mom, who says the words “There’s nothing to be afraid of.” See, there’s your mistake, lady. Anybody who says that in a horror movie will inevitably die two seconds later. And wouldn’t you know it, she does, big surprise. This whole scene could have been effective, but again, it’s the fucking Tooth Fairy, how is that scary? It removes all tension when you even so much as whisper that name in a scene like this.

So then we fast forward 12 years…can’t this movie just pick one timeline and stay with it? It’s jumping around more than the Energizer Bunny. If he was on crack. This time we see a young woman named Kaitlin talking to a doctor about her brother Michael, who hasn’t been sleeping well. The doctor says they’ve run all the tests and since none of them showed anything abnormal, he must be fine. Even though she tells him her brother hasn’t slept for more than 10 minutes in three weeks, he must be fine anyway, since the tests didn’t say anything. Gee, why do I get the idea that these morons would overlook a disorder even if it had neon signs on the person’s head proclaiming it for the whole world to see? USE YOUR BRAINS.

So Kyle comes back into town after 12 years of absence and talks to Michael, and the kid basically says it’s hopeless and that he’s going to die. Kaitlin takes him outside and shows him Michael’s drawings, which actually look scarier than the real monster in this movie, and then they split up and Kyle goes to hang out with his old buddy Larry. And apparently people think he killed his mother. Why? I don’t know. The fact that they even remember him after 12 years is weird on its own. Some douchebag picks a fight with him and pushes him around for no real reason, even going as far as to shove him off the porch and down a hill into the woods.

“These are MY WOODS,” he shouts as Kyle beats him up and flees. “Nobody messes with me!”

I’m sorry, but what the hell? What is this, grade school? Did this guy just never grow out of third grade? Why the hell is he picking on Kyle anyway? It’s completely silly. And why isn’t his friend Larry helping out? He just kind of sits there and watches while Kyle gets beat up. Luckily for the audience the guy who picked the fight gets his head cut off by the Tooth Fairy, and yes, that did kill a fair amount of my brain cells when I wrote it…

But yeah, just as the laws of lame horror movies would dictate, Kyle gets arrested for the murder of the bar-fight-picking douche and it doesn’t look good, since he has a bag full of flashlights and anti-psychotic pills. Hey, I don’t blame him; if I was in this movie I’d need that stuff too. It’s completely reasonable.

Yadda yadda yadda, the doctors think Michael’s condition is a result of dementia, meaning he thinks his dreams are real and self inflicts wounds to himself. Gee, that sounds like A Nightmare on Elm Street. Big surprise there; a terrible movie with no originality ripping off one of the most iconic stories in the genre. This movie has no shame. Oh, and it turns out their plan is to put Michael in a sensory deprivation chamber and turn off the lights to ‘cure’ him. Why do doctors in these movies always have the worst possible plans in coincidence with the movie’s plot? It’s practically foolproof, like a math formula. Have a movie with some particular horror niche -> Someone puts the most fragile and easy-to-get character in said niche situation.

So Kyle gets bailed out of jail by Larry, who apparently decided to finally get off his ass and do something useful. And hey, I didn’t know they offered bail for guys who were suspected of cutting someone’s head off! Oh well, who cares, the movie will be over faster if we just quit nitpicking. Larry gets killed by the Tooth Fairy, leaving Kyle to go back and try to stop them from putting Michael in the sensory deprivation chamber.

In a truly hilarious scene, Kyle barges in and tells them to stop the sensory deprivation thing, and Kaitlin just goes with it, no questions asked. Then a second later he gets dogpiled by the police who drag him away, shouting “You have to believe me!” the whole time, because that’s real convincing. Then he gets taken to the police station, where of course all the police get killed by the Tooth Fairy too, even though they should have lost their teeth years ago and been traumatized then, but I suppose that’s too much for this movie’s small brain to handle…and then we go back to the hospital for about the twentieth time in this movie, because they could only pay to use about three different locations total for the entire duration of the film.

The rest of the movie is just these idiots running around while Kyle screams “STAY IN THE LIGHT!” Seriously, if you played a drinking game for every time he said that, you’d be drunk about five minutes into this chase scene. Which would make the movie more bearable.

Oh, and the Tooth Fairy turns into this!

Beautiful, ain't it?

Luckily she, uh, EXPLODES soon after…yes, the Tooth Fairy explodes; I just wrote that. I’m having a hard time believing it myself. Why does she explode? How can anyone touch her and fight her if she is a ghost? I don’t know, the movie never explains any of it. Fuck it, just fuck it all to hell; the movie’s over and I haven’t been more glad in a long while.

I mean man, does this movie ever make me want to hurt people. Darkness Falls is the kind of movie you’d show to that one kid you hate to get revenge on them for whatever they did to you. And frankly, I think it’s a pretty harsh punishment. This is just so insipid and so lame on every level that it’s unbearable. I mean…GAH! Darkness Falls? More like Darkness Fails than anything, really. This is pretty much the worst of that whole trend in the early 2000s where every horror movie had to have some hokey superstitious plot point in place of actual scares and fear, pretty white people in place of actors who could at least get the job done and a safe, happy ending that assured you it was okay, because, you know, god forbid anything actually end in a way that sticks with you afterward. This movie just ended on a jump scare. Laughable, really – although only in the way that it makes me want to beat the people who created it with blunt objects while I laugh. Pfft. I’m just about done here.