AN EYE FOR AN EYE. YOUR LIFE FOR A TOOTH.
That’s one of the taglines for the 2003 horror flick, Darkness Falls—a double entendre title if ever there was one. In this case, Darkness Falls is the name of a small New England town. Here, the storied and seemingly innocent institution of the Tooth Fairy becomes the Nightmare on Every Street for the town’s kids. Well, why not? If Santa Claus and circus clowns can murder, maim, and disembowel…
The story opens with a bunch of expository backstory. Seems that, back in the nineteenth century, a widow named Matilda used to give a gold coin to every child that lost his or her tooth. The kids loved her; the adults, not so much. A fire disfigures Matilda, leaving her sensitive to light. She’ll only go out at night while wearing this weird porcelain mask. Two boys soon disappear, and of course Matilda is blamed—and hung. When the kids show up, the townsfolk realize their…uh, indiscretion and go into cover-up mode. But Matilda’s spirit is pissed and—don’tcha know—she wreaks subsequent havoc on the town. According to “legend,” the Tooth Fairy still visits every kid after they lose their last baby tooth, but if that kid opens his eyes and sees her, he’s toast.
Fast forward a century-and-a-half to a kid named Kyle Walsh. He’s just lost his last tooth, and that night he dares to open his eyes when he hears something. Yep, old Matilda is floating around his room. Kyle shines a flashlight on her and hides. The Tooth Fairy winds up killing his mom. Poor Kyle is blamed for it and carted off in front of his only friend in town, a girl named Caitlin Greene.
Again, fast forward another dozen or so years later. A seriously messed-up Kyle lives in Las Vegas, where the lights are always on. He schleps around a bagful of flashlights and takes enough meds to open a pharmacy. He’d never go back to Darkness Falls, right? Wrong-o. Caitlin tracks him down and says that her kid brother Michael has the same terror of the dark (achluophobia) as Kyle—apparently the kid also saw Matilda. Caitlin begs Kyle to
come back and try to help Michael—obviously she doesn’t know how screwed up he is—and he agrees, more to see the one-time love of his life than anything.
Guess what, Kyle remains persona non grata in Darkness Falls, with folks still blaming him for his mom’s death. While trying to help Michael he realizes that Matilda has returned with a vengeance, and he tries to warn the town morons, but to no avail. He even lands in jail. It is only after they start dropping like flies do people realize that they should’ve stayed in the light. Too late, as usual.
Okay, no spoiler alert, as I won’t give away the ending. Toward the end of the movie a storm knocks out all of the power in Darkness Falls. Yikes, no lights! Kyle, Caitlin and Michael head for the town’s remote lighthouse,
which is powered by a generator. Matilda, of course, is in hot pursuit (you’d think a spirit could go faster). The final confrontation takes place here. Will any of them make it? Quick, summon up Netflix or Amazon!
Darkness Falls is a whopping eighty-six minutes short, and is fast-paced and fun—for horror buffs, of course. It did not spawn any sequels, even though it apparently grossed up to four times its estimated budget. Sadly, Chaney Kley, the actor who played Kyle Walsh, passed away a few years later from symptoms related to sleep apnea. He was only thirty-four.
SWORDS & SPECTERS: I’ve just begun a total revision of The Quest of Tyron (originally published as Flight from Berbora), the sequel to The Sword of Tyron. Lots of work necessary on this one, so it will be a while. I’ll keep you posted.