Darkness Falls

By Garth Franklin
Darkness Falls

"Darkness Falls" isn't even worth a video rental let alone the big screen treatment its getting. The lacklustre but similar "Wes Craven Presents: They" at least had a decent supporting cast and at times a quite creepy atmosphere thanks to Director Robert Harmon's atmospheric setups and restrained visuals. No such strengths are on display here - the cast include a range of weak performances, even from the superb Emma Caufield who continues to shine in "Buffy" (an episode devoted to her character this year still remains the season's best).

Its interesting to see Caufield with a different and more introspective personality, but she's not backed up as both the script and lead actor Chaney Kley are very shaky at best. Its a shame considering the film's opening, an effectively chilly 'history of Matilda Dixon' montage followed by a flashback where a kid is attacked in his bed before the killer in question (who at first looks like an Indochinese version of Michael Myers) proceeds to slice and dice a loved one. There's several jumps and an almost unbearable amount of tension in these scenes which no sequence in this film is able to even vaguely replicate.

The score is tired and the noise level of course jumps up to ear shattering at all the requisite moments but the assault on the senses is more painful than frightening. Despite a nicely played out assault in a police station (a sequence which the vastly superior "Jeepers Creepers" did in a much better way), none of the scenes here are what one would classify as memorable - in fact many seem utterly ripped off the likes of "The X-Files", "Nightmare on Elm Street" and funnily enough even "Speed".

The trick of hiding the look of the 'fairy' until the final scenes works against it as the Stan Winston makeup job is about the only vaguely eye-catching thing in the whole flick. Visuals are murky, the pacing is quite awful and for the most part slow, the shocks (such as a leaping black cat out of nowhere) are so cliched and predictable that its way too difficult to muster up any level of fear.

Films as shockingly made as this can still be entertaining but 'Darkness' fails completely on that level too. No humour, no atmosphere, no titilation, no gore and cheap jumps which only the most timid will actually be affected by. Even very bad horror films like the lacklustre "Hellraiser" sequels at least seem to be trying and whilst they get tedious they have a lot more imagination and energy to them than this utterly woeful and mostly just banal effort. Where's Naomi Watts when you need her?