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In the sleepy coastal town of Darkness Falls, circa 1850, a sweet old lady who gives coins to children when they lose their baby teeth is mistakenly lynched after several kids go missing. She vows to come back and kill the town’s children whenever they lose that last tooth. Now Kyle Walsh (Chaney Kley) – the only one to survive a Tooth Fairy attack - returns to Darkness Falls when contacted by his former girlfriend, Caitlin (Emma Caulfield). Her young brother (Lee Cormie) is in a psych ward, terrified of the Tooth Fairy. With Kyle back in town, the spirit can finish off some old business – and new. But she can only attack in the dark…

Review by Jake Wilson:
Sometimes it doesn’t matter that horror films make no sense – keeping people confused can be a good first step towards scaring them witless. Sadly, this doesn’t apply to Darkness Falls, an atmospheric little horror film that comes undone due to a silly and confusing premise, or rather two premises that don’t hang together. 

On the one hand, we have the idea of a murderous spirit literally lurking in the shadows, a familiar but effective basis for ‘pure cinema’ – from shot to shot, the young director Jonathan Liebesman and his cinematographer Dan Lausten are pretty good at visualising a primal conflict between darkness and light. Their approach works best in the hushed, restrained early scenes, perhaps influenced by recent hits like The Ring and The Others: rather than being shown directly, the presence of evil is felt in the darkened corridor of a family home, the pale, stricken face of a small boy, the crackling storm and shadows of rain flowing down walls. 

The second, less promising idea involves equating this monster with the Tooth Fairy – an enticing yet idiotic ‘high concept’ that needed to be either played for camp parody or worked out in deadpan detail. In practice, this mythology is established then largely ignored, suggesting an incomplete script rewrite at the last minute; the second half of the film mainly consists of a series of well-shot though repetitive chase scenes, playing on the presence and absence of light sources (torches, power failures, etc) and our partial inability to see or understand what’s going on. 

While I suppose it’s a good thing that Liebesman and his writers largely eschew the usual smirking wisecracks, Emma Caulfield (of Buffy fame) is disappointingly bland when not given the chance to show off her brittle comic skills; the other actors are forgettable, though the audience at the preview screening perked up a bit during an incongruous cameo appearance from local comic Angus Sampson (the film was shot in Australia). Overall, this is a bit better than might be expected, though not recommended except to genre fans – and even they might start wondering what collecting kids' teeth has to do with horror.

Special Features reviewed by Louise Keller:
There’s a healthy package of special features on the DVD with two audio commentaries – one by director Jonathan Liebesman, writer James Vanderbilt & producers Jason Shuman and William Sherak and the other by writers Joe Harris and John Fasano. There are seven never-before-seen deleted scenes and two featurettes, including the short film ‘The Legend of Matilda Dixon’ short film. The storyboard to final film comparison is well done, and compares four key scenes including The Elevator Scene. You can also view the theatrical trailer as well as trailers of Anger Management and xXx.

Published February 12, 2004

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CAST: Chaney Kley, Emma Caulfield, Lee Cormie, Grant Piro, Sullivan Stapleton, Steve Mouzakis, Peter Curtin

DIRECTOR: Jonathan Liebesman

SCRIPT: John Fasano, James Vanderbilt, Joe Harris (story by Joe Harris)

RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes

PRESENTATION: widescreen 2.40: 1/16:9 Enhanced; Language Options: English, Spanish, Hungarian, Russian

SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by director Jonathan Liebesman, writer James Vanderbilt & Producers Jason Shuman and William Sherak; Audio commentary by writers Joe Harris, John Fasano; deleted scenes; The Legend of Matilda Dixon short film; behind the scenes feature on the making of the movie; story board to final film comparison of four key scenes; trailer; bonus trailers

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Col TriStar Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: February 11, 2004

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