Darkness Falls


Rating 3

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman

Written by Joe Harris, John Fasano and James Vanderbilt

Starring Emma Caulfield, Chaney Kley, Lee Cormie, Grant Piro, Sullivan Stapleton, Steve Mouzakis, Peter Curtin, Joshua Anderson and Emily Browning

It would be very easy to find all kinds of faults with this film and that is precisely what the critics did. 120 reviews collected at Rotten Tomatoes result in a horrible 8% rating.

“The tagline reads, ‘Evil Rises, Darkness Falls,’ but they clearly forgot the third caveat: ‘Slumber Ensues’.”
Matt Brunson, Creative Loafing

It’s not original. It isn’t scary. It follows tried and tested patterns already well established for modern day “popcorn” teen horror films – although it began life as a vehicle for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It could be easily argued there is no reason for this film to exist, but that presumably goes for any film that is not deemed to be a classic of paramount artistic merit. Who is to judge what films belong in this category? I have no time at all for any of the ‘Star Wars’ films (not that I’ve actually seen all of them), but the original one, in particular, is widely acknowledged as a classic. I can’t understand why, but that is of no great consequence. These things are subjective. Each time I’ve watched ‘Darkness Falls’ I’ve enjoyed it more. It’s the kind of horror film I like.

I guess it’s true to say that modern “chillers”, horror films that seek to be creepy rather than gore-fests, are failing in their intent when compared to the old classics like ‘The Spiral Staircase’, ‘The Haunting’ and ‘Village Of The Damned’. This might go some way towards explaining the brief fascination with so-called “J-Horror”, a genre that harks back to an older era. Part of the success of those older films and many others like them is the black and white photography, which lends them an immediately eerie feel.

‘Darkness Falls’ might not be the best film in the world, but I think it works rather well. Emma Caulfield is a strangely undervalued and underused actress, although I suppose that could be said of many other actresses – and, indeed, actors – in Hollywood. The first time I watched the film I wasn’t especially impressed by Chaney Kley, but each time I’ve watched it again since then I have become more taken by his nervy, jittery performance. It suits the role and his character’s backstory very well. It’s sad that he had died so young – just 34 years old.

The film, which wasn’t exactly a budget-breaker, grossed $47.5 million at the box office.


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