Darkness Falls (2003 film)

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Darkness Falls
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJonathan Liebesman
Screenplay byJoe Harris
James Vanderbilt
John Fasano
Story byJoe Harris
Produced byJohn Fasano
John Hegeman
William Sherak
Jason Shuman
CinematographyDan Laustsen
Edited byTimothy Alverson
Steve Mirkovich
Music byBrian Tyler
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • January 24, 2003 (2003-01-24)
Running time
86 minutes
CountriesUnited States
Budget$11 million[1]
Box office$47.5 million[1]

Darkness Falls is a 2003 supernatural horror film written by Joe Harris, James Vanderbilt and John Fasano. And directed by Jonathan Liebesman, in his feature directorial debut. The film stars Chaney Kley and Emma Caulfield. And follows Kyle Walsh (Kley), who witnesses his mother's murder at the hands of a vengeful spirit lynched by an angry mob more than 150 years ago. Twelve years later, Kyle returns to his childhood home because Michael Greene (Lee Cormie), the young brother of his romantic interest Caitlin (Caulfield), is being stalked by the same spirit. Kyle must protect them from this powerful enemy and put an end to its killing spree. Released on January 24, 2003, it was critically panned, but was considered a commercial success, grossing $47.5 million against a $11 million budget.


In the middle of the 19th century, in the town of Darkness Falls, elderly widow Matilda Dixon was adored by the town's children. She would give them a gold coin whenever they lost a tooth, earning her the nickname Tooth Fairy. One night, a fire broke out in her house and left her face disfigured and severely sensitive to light. She wore a white porcelain mask and would only leave her house at night. However, the town's adults were suspicious of Matilda, believing her to be a witch. When two children went missing, the town quickly turned on Matilda. They tore off her mask, exposed her face to light and hanged her. Before her death, Matilda placed a curse on the town and swore revenge. "What I took before in kindness, I will take forever in revenge". When the two missing children returned home unharmed, the town realized their mistake and quickly buried Matilda's body, keeping their deed a secret. Over the next 150 years, the story of Matilda became the legend of the Tooth Fairy. Her spirit visits children on the night they lose their last baby tooth. If anyone lays eyes upon her, they will face her curse and be killed.

In 1990, Kyle Walsh, a teenager befriended by Caitlin Greene, loses his last baby tooth. That night, he wakes after a horrific nightmare and senses Matilda's presence, discovering that the story is true. Knowing she cannot bear the light, he shines a flashlight into her face and flees. Hiding in the brightly lit bathroom. His mother tries to reassure him that there is nobody else in the house but is killed after seeing Matilda in Kyle's room. The next morning, police arrive and Kyle is removed to a psychiatric institution after mistaken speculations that he killed his mother.

Twelve years later, Caitlin telephones Kyle to ask for his help with her younger brother Michael, who refuses to sleep in the dark. Kyle still suffers extreme paranoia from his encounter with Matilda. He has dozens of flashlights and numerous medications for anxiety, depression and sleep disorders. Kyle visits Michael at the hospital but denies any relation to his condition and walks away from Caitlin. She still believes that the legend of Matilda Dixon is just a story, one which they were all told as children but a story nonetheless.

Kyle tries to warn others of Matilda but faces ridicule and skepticism. Which leads to the death of many townspeople for not believing him. A lightning storm blacks out the whole town. Realizing that Michael and Caitlin are in danger, Kyle rushes to the hospital. He rescues them and gains allies along the way, as others see Matilda and realize the story is true. Kyle, Michael and Caitlin flee and hide in the lighthouse. They are helped by several medical personnel and a police officer, all of whom are killed by Matilda.

During his final confrontation with Matilda, power is restored and the lighthouse beacon is activated. The sudden exposure to light causes Matilda excruciating pain and Kyle tears off her mask. Seeing her grotesque, disfigured face, he realizes she is now vulnerable. Enraged, she resumes her attack. Kyle sets his right sleeve on fire and he strikes her face with it. As her spirit is engulfed in flame, Matilda is destroyed and her curse is finally brought to an end.

In a final scene, a young boy is being tucked into bed by his parents, having just lost his last baby tooth. As he sleeps, his mother replaces the tooth under his pillow with some gold coins.



In September 2001, the film was announced as having entered development under the working titles of Don't Peek and The Tooth Fairy as the first production of the Revolution Studios based Distant Corners Entertainment Group, which itself was expanded from a 2001 short film Tooth Fairy written and directed by Joe Harris[2].[3] Filming was slated to begin in November of that year with production in Australia on a $6-8 million budget.[3] Jonathan Liebesman was announced as director in what would be his debut feature.[3] Producer John Hegeman, who was behind the marketing of The Blair Witch Project, voiced his hopes that the film would be the first in a wide reaching franchise.[3]


Initially, the film was to have established Kyle Walsh as more explicitly troubled while keeping the actual existence of the Tooth Fairy vague and undefined in order to make audiences question whether Kyle was the killer.[2] Matilda Dixon was also established as being a younger widow with a husband who was lost at sea rather than an older woman as depicted in the final film.[2] After completion, the producers heavily truncated the final cut removing character backstory as well as expanded details on the Darkness Falls curse and made the film much more upfront and explicit with the Tooth Fairy as the main antagonist rather than any suggestion that Kyle may be the killer.[2]


Darkness Falls: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Film score (Digital download / Audio CD) by
ReleasedMarch 4th, 2003
LabelVarese Sarabande

The film's closing credits feature the song "Gunboat" by Vixtrola. Other songs featured in the film include "Look Out Below" by Closure, "Hand of Emptiness" by Brian Tichy, and "Rock Nation" by Scott Nickoley and Jamie Dunlap.

All music is composed by Brian Tyler

Darkness Falls: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
1."Evil Rises"2:26
2."Darkness Falls"2:33
3."Eye Contact"1:50
5."A Bit Crispy"1:22
6."25 Words or Less"1:41
7."Stay in the Light"1:22
8."Lose a Tooth"1:31
9."Der Zylinder"2:58
10."One Kiss"1:57
11."Let There Be Light Sort Of"1:08
12."We Are Safe In Here"0:37
13."We Are Not Safe In Here"0:43
17."Utter Darkness"1:28
18."That Has Got To Hurt"1:25
19."Kyle and Michael"2:30
20."Perception Tank"1:39
21."Blood Red Herring"0:44
22."Meet the Tooth Fairy"2:49
23."Reading the Legend"0:44
24."Is This Kyle Walsh?"1:53
25."The Mask"1:03
26."End Titles"7:07
Total length:48:32


Box office[edit]

Darkness Falls debuted at number one its opening weekend.[4] Grossing $32,551,396 domestically and $47,488,536 worldwide, Darkness Falls was considered a commercial success at the U.S. box office, recouping its $11 million budget.[1]

Critical response[edit]

According to review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, 9% of critics out of 131 reviews gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 3.2/10; the critical consensus is: "A derivative movie where the scares are few and things don't make much sense".[5] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 23 out of 100, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews", based on reviews from 27 critics.[6] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B−" on an A+ to F scale.[7]

In his review for The New York Times, Stephen Holden called the film "an efficient little horror movie that doesn't waste its time getting down to business." Although the film had a "deliberate sparseness of gore," Holden noted the "demonization of a benign childhood phantom" as the film's "cleverest notion."[8] Jamie Russell of the BBC gave it 3/5 stars, writing: "This is a self-consciously silly, completely disposable multiplex movie that does its best to deliver its fair share of chills while struggling to keep a straight face."[9]

Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times said that although "the filmmakers and their cast strive mightily to work up some thrills and chills," the film ultimately was "not all that scary."[10] Philip French of The Observer called it "a mish mash of horror-movie clichés".[11] Alexander Walker of the Evening Standard wrote: "Bogey-fanciers may enjoy it; others may want to check out long before they all take refuge in the lighthouse."[12]


Joe Harris wrote Darkness Falls: The Tragic Life of Matilda Dixon, a prequel comic, which was published by Dark Horse Comics.[citation needed] Keith R. A. DeCandido wrote a novelization of the film, which was published by Pocket Books in December 2002.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Darkness Falls on Box Office Mojo". Archived from the original on 2016-10-28. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
  2. ^ a b c d Lê, Paul (January 1, 2024). "'Darkness Falls' – Revisiting the Tooth Fairy Horror Movie and Its Novelization". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved March 5, 2024.
  3. ^ a b c d "Distant Corners takes 'Peek'". Variety. Retrieved February 16, 2024.
  4. ^ "A Spirited Debut for 'Darkness'". Los Angeles Times. 27 January 2003. Archived from the original on 3 March 2024. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  5. ^ Darkness Falls on Rotten Tomatoes. Archived 2008-03-05 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 9 February 2023.
  6. ^ "Darkness Falls". Metacritic. Archived from the original on July 25, 2015. Retrieved June 13, 2015.
  7. ^ "CinemaScore". cinemascore.com. Archived from the original on 2015-02-17. Retrieved 2017-10-16.
  8. ^ Holden, Stephen (24 January 2003). "FILM REVIEW; A Child Losing a Tooth? Better Keep the Light On". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 13 December 2017. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  9. ^ Russell, Jamie (6 May 2003). "Darkness Falls (2003)". BBC. Archived from the original on 2022-04-30. Retrieved 2022-04-30.
  10. ^ Thomas, Kevin (24 January 2003). "'Darkness' Descends, Despite All Its Energy". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 3 March 2024. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  11. ^ French, Philip (May 11, 2003). "Darkness Falls". The Observer. Archived from the original on 2022-04-30. Retrieved 2022-04-30.
  12. ^ Walker, Alexander (2012-04-10). "One bad tooth fairy". Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 2022-04-30. Retrieved 2022-04-30.

External links[edit]