by Collin Souter
I have a confession to make: I liked “The Sixth Sense.” Yeah, I know, how could I? Well, I guess I got caught up in the atmosphere of it. I liked the little dead people-seeing tyke that was introduced to us and I also liked how the ending never went the way usual psychological thrillers go, with action-packed suspense endings where the killer isn’t really dead, that sort of thing. It maintained its eerie, dramatic tone and I found that to be refreshing. I liked all those things about it and, yes, you can call me a moron for not seeing the ending coming. I will admit to stupidity there, as I’m sure millions of others will, too. So, with all those qualities going for it, I have to say that I quite enjoyed “The Sixth Sense” very much. Award-worthy? Hardly, but still good entertainment.But I can’t like it anymore. It has given rise to too many things I find annoying in the world of cinema, namely its director M. Night Shamylamnylan. I hated “Unbreakable” and “Signs,” but I won’t get into that because it will steer me farther from the matter at hand than I need to be. I’m talking about kids. I don’t like them and I never have. I especially don’t like them in my horror movies anymore, and because “The Sixth Sense” grossed an ungodly $300 million, horror movies have turned into pages removed from the dark, suicidal diary entries of The Little Rascals. And it’s all because of “The Sixth Sense.”
"Enough with the PG-13 kiddie-horror!"
Lat year alone, we endured “The Ring,” “Ghost Ship” and “Wes Craven Presents A Movie I Had Nothing To Do With Called ‘They’,” all of which had vacant, pale faced young children who could use a little extra candy in their diet. And now, we have the latest entry in this PG-13-ized world of pseudo-horror, “Darkness Falls.” In all of these movies, the kids hold the key to everything because, I’m guessing, that will make it more eerie! And because all the adults are nameless, faceless, personality-less voice phantoms with caucasian host bodies, we sympathize with the kid(s) the most, even though we’d rather just plop them down in from of the TV for a few hours while us adults handle the actual horror.
“Darkness Falls” tells the story of a killer Tooth Fairy. Please, re-read that sentence. Now, read it again. Got that? Okay. Now, the movie has a decent set-up in which a man tells us the legend of a woman named Matilda who vows revenge for her wrongful murder by killing small children in the town of Darkness Falls (get it?) after they lose their last tooth. The movie also has a decent first scene in which one boy, Kyle, has an encounter with Matilda, The Tooth Fairy, an incident that scars him for life.
The rest of the movie, as you would expect, takes place 16 years later and Kyle (Chaney Kley) has not yet recovered from the horrific ordeal. He has taken to working as a security expert in Las Vegas and putting up “Feardotcom” posters all over his apartment, which I guess reminds him of the oh-so-spooky face of the Tooth Fairy. Out of the blue, his childhood girlfriend, Caitlin (Emma Caulfield), calls him for the purposes of dragging his sorry ass out of his humdrum existence to help out her younger brother, Michael, who has been having sleep disorders.
Kyle has a checkered past in Darkness Falls. Everyone thinks he murdered his mother. Actually, the Tooth Fairy did it. Kyle also fidgets and gets tense every time a shadow moves by or a light flickers on and off (He must have been fun to bring to U2’s Zoo TV concerts). Soon, Kyle meets little Michael and the two hit it off beautifully. Of course, Michael spends all his time at the hospital, where he admits to Kyle, “I see Tooth Fairies.” Oh, and one thing you should know about the Tooth Fairy: Bright light will kill it, so stay in the dark. But if it’s dark, how do you know where it is? Look, just shut up and be careful of it, okay?
The rest of the movie just gets messier and messier. The plot thinnins when the doctors want to put Michael under sedation in order for him to confront his fears of the dark. “This,” the Doctors explain, “will help Michael with his fears. Since he cannot tell what is real and what is not from his dreams, if he fears what is not there, then he will not be afraid of what is, therefore his fears…” YAAAAAWWWWWWWWNNN… What? Oh, yeah, that’s very interesting. But Kyle urges them not to conduct any tests on little Michael because of what all those tests did to Kyle when he was a tyke, and look at him now. He mopes around his apartment tinkering with flashlights, while not having any interests in poetry or pop culture.
I have two drinking games for you with the second half of “Darkness Falls”: Every time someone screams out, “Michael,” take a shot of Beam. Every time Kyle explains to us that the Tooth Fairy can only attack in the dark and that bright light will kill her, take a shot of Daniels. You should be good and wasted by the time the end credits roll. Allow me to clear up a matter so that you don’t have to question whether or not the alcohol messed up your vision: Yes, it took three people to write this movie.
“Darkness Falls” has nothing to shout about, although there were some younger teens in the audience who got more than their fair share of scares from it. The movie uses those tired tactics to provoke fright:
DAAAAAAAA!!! DAAAAAAA!!! EVIL, EVIL, EVIL!!! BLAAAAAAH!!! FRIGHTENING, FRIGHTENING, EVIL, EVIL, EVIL!!!! DAAARRRR!!! OOGLY, OOGLY, OOGLY………And so on and so forth. At one point, Caitlin sits in her car and has a moment of silence, at which point a black cat jumps in from out of nowhere. This is meant to scare us. Caitlin just laughs it off and says, “A black cat. Why not?” For this reason, I’m guessing director Jonathan Liebesman hired Emma Caulfield for her role because off the set, she became his muse. Even toward the end, a character says, “All this over a broken tooth.” In these fleeting moments, “Darkness Falls” seems to have a sense of humor about itself. If only, the rest of the movie had the same confidence. For the rest of “Darkness Falls,” we see nothing but “Dumb, Serious People,” and way, way too many kids. Now, go to your room.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6576&reviewer=233
originally posted: 01/26/03 16:56:44