Darkness Falls
starring Anya from Buffy
2 stars

It's good to know that people can change, even when they're ghosts.

Consider Matilda, aka the Tooth Fairy, the spectre spooking up trouble in Darkness Falls. Used to be, she was an old lady who gave kids coins when their baby teeth came out. Then the town burned her for being ugly, so when she became a ghost, she still went after kids' teeth, but if they saw her, she'd kill them.

It's a simple enough shtick for a ghost: cruise around, grab teeth, replace with coins; if seen, kill. But is it fair to consign a ghost to an eternity of doing the same old thing? Of course not. And if a ghost decides, during a big power outage, to dump all the crap about teeth and only killing when seen in favor of just killing anybody and everybody, can we blame her? How could we, and still remain true to ourselves?

That's how I amused myself while watching Darkness Falls: pondering the life choices of ghosts. I had to do something, cuz let's face it, the movie sucks. This is the second film in two months (after December's They) that tries to milk a little horror out of the idea of night terrors, the notion that there really is something evil hiding in the dark. 

There's no reason at all why this can't be scary. The problem is, there already was a pretty good movie, not long ago, about a group of people armed only with dwindling sources of light fending off a bunch of light-senstive monsters. It was called Pitch Black, it starred Vin Diesel, and while it had its own set of stupidities, at least it pulled off the scary set pieces pretty well. In contrast, the only eerie thing about Darkness Falls is how similar it is to They.

It's freaky, man. Both movies are about night terrors, both feature secondary Buffy the Vampire Slayer actors (Marc Blucas, Riley, in They; Emma Caulfield, Anya, in Darkness Falls), *and* both involve characters who have traumatic encounters with monsters in their youth and then grow up to be professional 25-year-old monster-fearers.

The fearer in Darkness Falls is named Kyle, played by some dude named Chaney Kley who looks kinda like a young, heterosexual Pierce Brosnan. After his brush with the Tooth Fairy, he spends the next 12 years fending her off with a flashlight. Then he gets a call from his old sweetheart, Anya from Buffy, who tells him that her little brother is complaining of night terrors just like the ones Kyle talked about back in the day. Kyle volunteers to help by yelling "Keep him out of the dark" a bit.

Make sense? Not for long it won't. While we're still wondering who we're supposed to give a rat's ass about --Kyle, Anya, or Anya's little brother-- the power goes out, the Tooth Fairy decides to do a little freelance everybody-killin', "Stay in the light!" is yelled several times, and three or four jerkily-edited ghost attack scenes later, the movie ends.

I'll give Darkness Falls this: Matilda's one of the most aggressive ghosts I've seen in a movie in a while. Usually ghosts just scare you to death, or trick you into wandering off a cliff; Matilda swoops in and juliennes anybody she can get her wispy little whatevers on.  But aggressive isn't the same as interesting. If you're going to make a movie about boring characters fighting off a monster, then your monster has to be cool. Matilda has a boring mask and a boring burnt-up face underneath, and that's about it. Since she has about as much personality as the other characters (none), the result is another crappy movie not worth anybody's time.