Nerdling Tales takes a mostly spoiler free look at cult classics mostly overlooked by the public, movies that failed so hard they won, and the “what in the hell were they thinking” flicks. Join her as she reminisces about what makes these movies so interesting and full of hopeful sequel potential, and yet the general movie going population tends to forget their existence.
With the release of Lights Out this weekend, I thought I would visit another “be afraid of the dark” movie which stars our favorite capitalism obsessed vengeance demon and the worst story of the tooth fairy ever.
Release: January 24, 2003
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Writers: Joe Harris, John Fasano, James Vanderbilt
Stars: Chaney Kley, Emma Caulfield, Lee Cormie, Grant Piro, Sullivan Stapleton, Steve Mouzakis, Anthony Burrows
Darkness Falls has a really messed up version of the tooth fairy. Her name is Matilda Dixon (Burrows) and she was a sweet old lady who collected teeth from the town children and gave them a gold coin. Because of a burn to her face, she had to keep it covered and was sensitive to light, so she would only come out at night. Two children went missing and the towns people, freaked out by her mask and nocturnal life, hung her as punishment. As she was dying, she placed a curse on the town’s children. But the two kids were not taken, just lost and turned up in town a day later. Her spirit comes to take the last baby tooth of those living in Darkness Falls, but if they see her in the dark, she kills them.
When young Kyle Walsh (Joshua Anderson) lost his last baby tooth, he placed it under his pillow to appease the spirit. Out of fear, Kyle makes to mistake of peeking out from his covers and sees Matilda. He escapes her attack, but his mother is killed instead. Kyle is taken by police to a mental hospital when they don’t believe his story. He is now marked by Matilda. Any time he is in the dark, she comes for him. Years later, his old friend Caitlin (Emma Caulfield) calls Kyle because her younger brother is making the same claims of Matilda attacking him in the dark, just as Kyle did when his mother died.
As far as horror movies go, this one is pretty terrible. Lots of jump scares and loud sounds coming at you to get a reaction. Plenty of one dimensional characters that are actually unlikable due to their sheer stupidity. I found myself actively rooting for all of their deaths and Matilda winning in the end. Horribly bad dialogue (but really how good can the dialogue be when the movie is about an evil tooth fairy?). The plot points are very by the numbers for a horror film.
Liebesman would go on to direct films like the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series reboot, Wrath of the Titans, and Battle Los Angeles if that gives you any idea as to how bad Darkness Falls is. It makes me a little sad this was the first starring movie role Caulfield had. The Buffy vet deserved better considering how great she was on the show.
Really the only thing that makes this an interesting horror is the messed up version of the tooth fairy which stuck with me long after seeing this movie. Taking a happy tradition kids love and turn it into a horror film about being afraid of the dark is pretty messed up and I love it. The growl Matilda makes is pretty freaky (funny side note: after seeing Darkness Falls in theaters with my roommate, I would make the growling sounds late at night to mess with her) and her mask was very reminiscent of the creepy porcelain dolls your grandmother and aunt collect. It is kind of one those things where it is an A for effort, but a big giant F in execution.
If you are planning to go and see Lights Out this weekend, maybe make a little room for another horror about the perils of being in the dark.