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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Hungarian: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Russian: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Commentary - English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Commentary - English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    English, Spanish, Czech, Greek, Polish, Hungarian, Russian, Dutch, Arabic, English - Hearing Impaired, Turkish, Icelandic, Croatian, Hindi, Slovenian, Serbian, Commentary - English, Commentary - Dutch
  Extras
  • 7 Deleted scenes
  • 3 Theatrical trailer - XXX, Darkness Falls, Anger Management
  • 2 Audio commentary - Filmmaker's + Writer's
  • 2 Featurette - The Legend of Matilda Dixon, Making Of
  • Animated menus
  • Storyboards - 4 Comparisons

Darkness Falls: CE

Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 82 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

I must say I wasnít expecting much from this film, but I ended up being right about some parts and quite wrong about others. Allow me to iterate...

I still remember the TV spots for this on telly not so long ago. I remember thinking at the time, Ďyes, another teen horror movie which will be here this week, gone by nextí (but not in such a nerdy monologue inside my head). Okay, so I was pretty right on that I suppose. In watching the first 15 minutes of the film, however, I was surprised because the prologue gives us the entire back-story on the particular nasty haunting the sleepy coastal town of Darkness Falls. Usually the mystery of the character gets pieced together throughout and thatís when the heroes/heroines figure out how to beat the boogedy. So, immediately that preconception was blasted to bits.

Then there is the cinematography. Sure there are plenty of readily used devices, but some shots have been framed so magnificently as to be pure cinematic art. Itís not all the way through, but on occasion, wow, thatís a great shot. So it begins in a genuinely creepy fashion and Iím beginning to question my audacity of watching this at 1am on a school night. But then after a while, it becomes a readily understood creature feature where we learn nothing new of the characters, nothing new of the boogedy and we get a chase sequence and climax as per usual.

"Crazy isnít what it used to be..."

There are no opening titles other than the film title itself, reminding me of P.T. Andersonís direction of Punch-Drunk Love where the credits fall at filmís end (and indeed this happens here). So, another preconceived notion dissipates into the ether...

Perhaps I should stop describing a film you have no idea what Iím talking about (unless youíve seen it already). 150 years ago, in the town of Darkness Falls, lived a woman named Matilda Dixon who traded the childrenís lost teeth for a gold coin. After a fire ravages her house and face causing extreme sensitivity to the light, she takes to wearing a porcelain mask to cover her visage and trading with the children by night. However, when two little guys disappear, the townspeople immediately think this old fruitcake offed them, so they string her up in the town square. She curses the town before she swings, however, saying she will take (for free) what she used to barter for as a form of revenge.

Fast-forward 150 years. Kyle Walsh is a 12-year-old boy who just lost his last baby tooth (the special one that brings the Tooth Fairy). He sees her and (as thereís to be no peeking) so begins a haunting pursuit over the next 12 years where he is afraid of the dark and carries a battery of torches with him at all times. His old sweetheart of his youth has a younger brother who has just claimed to see the same thing and as they come together, the Tooth Fairy appears to put their lights out. Forever!

(Like the dramatic finish?)

So, anyway, this wasnít quite what I was expecting. A few clues throughout point toward this having been made in Australia and this was confirmed in the closing titles and featurettes later. The first clue was some not-so-good accents. The second was the appearance of that guy from the Maggi Snack Stop ads who says Ď10-4 Big Daddyí to that other guy from Skithouse. Third was the younger brother, Michael, played by Lee Cormie who you will also recognise from Aussie TV.

However, regardless of the plot demise halfway through, the film looks stylish in that New Gothic that seems to be going around and is worth the look, particularly for fans of horror movies.

  Video
Contract

An extraordinarily nice delivery here in the full 2.35:1 screen ration with 16:9 enhancement. Crystal clear image and fairly good shadow detail throughout brings us most of this film very well (and as most is in darkness thatís important). Any detail missing from the shadows is quite deliberate and effectively used. I didnít pick up any film artefacts, blacks are true or slightly greenish as required (for hospital shots) and flesh tones are suitably pallid. Overall a sensational delivery making the cinematography of this film work all the better.

  Audio
Contract

With a sound effects palette being created by Skywalker Sound you would expect superb and again thereís no disappointment here. Thereís plenty of roaming screams and wails and big bangs and gunshots and stuff, plus some truly thumping Goth music. As noted, originally quite unnerving, though that evens out a little as we progress. Dialogue is all pretty clear and we get a couple of good one-liners and catchphrases thrown in throughout for mild comic relief.

The score by Brian Tyler is nothing really durable and whilst it does elevate some scenes beyond the background, it doesnít appear much more than pedestrian for the majority. As noted, those Goth tunes come in from bands like Closure and Vixtrola and do add to that New Gothic feeling modern and stylish horror films are leaning toward.

  Extras
Contract

Firstly, some nice animated menus with images culled from the filmís opening montage. Our first special features, however, are really in the dual audio commentaries. The first by the filmmakers is the tip for my money, as the director, two producers and one scriptwriter bandy back and forth with some interesting facts and info on the filmís making, sets etc. I truly like the directorís honesty throughout this too. Itís his first film and he admits readily his inexperience and his nervousness rather than big-noting himself and sounding like a wanker. The second is from the other two writers and this is essentially two guys having a nervous laugh as they seem very excited to be doing a commentary.

Seven deleted scenes follow and these are the usual stuff with little to recommend them as stayers. Delivered in 2.35:1 without enhancement and with timecodes, they are heavily under-rendered and not very interesting.

Two featurettes follow with the first entitled The Legend of Matilda Dixon. This is an exploration of the original legend from Port Fairy in South Australia that inspired the film. Pretty interesting, and running for 10:46, but there are some really crappy actors playing local characters delivering their versions. At least, I think theyíre actors. Otherwise that town has some seriously stilted talkers. The second is the Making of, which runs for 17:18. This is the usual stuff again and features the director again discussing the virtues of having a good crew when you donít have much experience. I couldnít help but think the guy quite genuine and you have to respect honesty like that.

Finally four storyboard comparisons that they shouldnít have bothered with. The storyboard pics take up two thirds of the screen while the film runs in a tiny little box down below and being such a dark film, at that size, forget seeing detail. Not worth the effort really.

Oh, and three 1.85:1 with 16:9 trailers are included. These are for our headline gig Darkness Falls, with Anger Management and xXx thrown into the mix as well.

  Overall  
Contract

This is certainly not the worst horror film Iíve ever seen. The budget is obviously large enough, the cinematography is stylish and slick and the acting is pretty good. The unusual nature of the story makes it interesting, but itís halfway through when we realise thereís nothing new to learn that attention may waver.

However, it looks great and being shot here and treated to post-production overseas makes it look American for the most part, while still having a taste of Aussie in it.

Well worth checking out by fans of the genre with some genuinely creepy moments and more than one subtle reference to some other classics you will have fun picking up on.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=3477
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      And I quote...
    "New Gothic horror that starts out fairly strongly but begins losing momentum toward the finish."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nintaus DVD-N9901
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Receiver:
          Diamond
    • Speakers:
          Diamond
    • Surrounds:
          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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