Darkness Falls

Just what we needed, I thought--another "night terrors" film in the wake of the thuddingly boring THEY. And almost the same opening scene, to boot! 

Ah, but THEY was all about ambiguity, and as a result, it had nothing to offer but the standard "hit parade" of attempted shocks until it finally reached its genuinely creepy ending. 

But DARKNESS FALLS has an advantage here--while it's never particularly scary, the fact that it's specifically ABOUT something means that the filmmakers can lay down the rules and see how much fun they can have with them throughout the film. 

We've all seen the character facing certain doom at the hands of well-meaning doctors who insist that there's nothing to REALLY be afraid of (when we know all too well that something certainly IS coming to get him)--still, the sight of a young child in this predicament manages to strike a chord. It's not as disturbing as the hospital sequences of THE EXORCIST were, but what could be? 

Look--you get a demon that can only come out in the dark. Therefore, characters have to stay in the light if they want to live. Yes, just like in PITCH BLACK. The cliche parade is there in full force, and you can pick the story apart with a blunt instrument. But once the film hits its stride (on or about the halfway point) it becomes clear that it does have a brisk, zippy pace working in its favor. Major point! 

There's also a well-used undercurrent of humor (everyone's invited to groan "Oh, come ON!" every time a light blows out, which eventually seems to happen every five seconds), an enjoyable setpiece in the "flee the hospital before the emergency lights give out" sequence, and a couple of genuine surprises in the sea of false and/or predictable scares. 

Best of all, DARKNESS FALLS knows just when--and just how--to get off the stage, and how many recent horror films can we say that about? 

Look--DARKNESS FALLS isn't going to scare YOU. But as I see it, to come down too hard on such an eager-to-please effort like this would defeat the purpose of being a horror fan. This is one to simply roll with.

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