A young boy claims to have awakened from a sound sleep to see the Tooth Fairy--trying to kill him. Years later he returns to confront his troubled past and save his hometown from an unrelenting evil that has plagued it for over a century.
Some 150 years ago, a woman, Matilda Nixon, was blamed for the kidnapping of two local children and hanged by an angry lynch mob, her body burned and scarred by the ray of a nearby lighthouse. After Matilda was buried, however, the kids turned up unharmed. She now haunts the town of Darkness Falls in the form of the Tooth Fairy and seeks vengeance on the community that lynched her. The film's protagonist is the troubled Kyle Walsh (Chaney Kley), who, as a child, woke up and saw the Tooth Fairy trying to kill him. He has since left Darkness Falls but returns to help his childhood friend Caitlin (Emma Caulfield), after she informs him that her five-year-old brother suffers inexplicable ''night terrors.'' The Tooth Fairy's Achilles heel is light, so when a citywide blackout hits the town, no one is safe. The story is completely hokey and sparse on details, but it is guaranteed to scare the crap out of anyone--even the most faithful horror aficionados.
Staying true to B-movie horrors, Darkness Falls doesn't splurge in the star department. Kley, who appeared on the small screen in the series Touched by an Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, makes his feature film debut as Kyle. His performance is a little flat here and his reaction to the Tooth Fairy is a little too blasé--even if this is not his first encounter with her. Another TV alum, Caulfield (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Beverly Hills, 90210) is slightly more convincing as she goes from skeptic to worrier to believer in the sinister Tooth Fairy. As her five-year-old brother Michael, Lee Cormie is a thoroughly irritating child actor whose soul purpose in the film is to be cute and act vewy afwaid of the dawk. When he is not busy batting his eyelashes, Cormie's character spends most of the film in a hospital bed because, we are told, he suffers from sleep deprivation. Yet Michael is asleep in almost every hospital scene.
Scribes Joseph Harris and John Fasano churn out a screenplay that is highly derivative of Wes Craven Presents: They, released last November, which revolved around night terrors and things that go boo! in the dark. But while They's villains--little papier-mâché figurines slathered in K-Y jelly--evoked more laughs than scares, Darkness Falls' Tooth Fairy has a more sinister appearance: a wretched winged creature draped in black rags that appears wherever light is obscured while making these gnarly breathing sounds. First-time helmer Jonathan Liebesman manages to evoke fear without heavy special effects or blood and gore, but by preying on every child's primal fear--the dark--using tried-and-true scare tactics that for some forsaken reason still work. ''Why don't we just keep driving? We're safe in the car,'' a passenger in a car suggests, seconds before old Matilda comes crashing through the windshield. It's a typical horror formula that will (I am ashamed to say) get you every time.
The PG-13 rated Darkness Falls casts a pall over its genre rather than do it justice. It should, however, appeal to horror fans looking for a cheap thrill.