Monday, September 03, 2007

Afraid of the dark?

You better should be. The charming person next to this paragraph is ... the Tooth Fairy. Or so the movie "Darkness Falls" says.

I like horror movies and I don't care whether people tell me I'm to old to do so. But what I like most are horror movies that work without all that modern technology. It's possible to create every kind of creature with help of the computer, so creating hordes of half-decayed zombies is possible. But that doesn't make them any better.

So I often go for b-movies instead. Less money for the movie usually means less computer generated effects and more traditional special effects stuff like masks or puppets - or simply damn good lighting techniques.

"Darkness Falls", a movie I hadn't even heard of before I found the DVD for a couple of Euros in my local store, does work a lot with lighting - or rather with the darkness, just as the title suggests. There's also gristly murders, a close-to-reality background legend (which, or so a documentary on the same DVD claims, comes from the fate of a woman in an Australian town) and a well-paced story. That's all I actually demand of a horror movie. Not enormous special effects, not a budged of millions of dollars, just some good effects, a good story and actor which are up to their task (and the actors in this movie definitely are).

The small town of Darkness Falls (if this isn't a town that's been aptly named, I don't know one) has it's own dirty secret in the basement. About 150 years before the movie starts (retold in the movie with a couple of old photographs) a woman named Mathilda Dixon lived in the town. She was a kind woman who gave the children small change for their teeth when they lost them. One day she was caught in her burning house and suffered severe injuries. Most of her body was burned, actually, and the skin became extremely sensitive to light, so she only ventured out at night afterwards, always wearing a porcelain mask to hide her burned and twisted face (especially as she had been a pretty woman before). Then, one day, two children disappeared and the people in town thought it was her doing, so they hanged her and ripped the mask off her face - only to find the children alive and save shortly afterwards. With her dying breath she cursed the town, saying she would take that which she had taken out of kindness out of revenge - for ever. Since that day the Tooth Fairy Mathilda visits the children of the town when they loose their last tooth - and kills those who wake and see her face - or rather her mask.

We jump into the future (or rather our present) to a young boy called Kyle who has just lost his last tooth. Unfortunately, during the night, he wakes up and sees the Tooth Fairy. He escapes her by staying in the light - as she can't venture there, an important fact in the movie -, but his mother, who (as it should be in a horror movie) doesn't believe him, is killed by Mathilda. And he is blamed and spends the next couple of years in mental hospitals - and later on in a flat where there's always some light burning.

Then he is phoned by his childhood friend Caitlin whose younger brother is going through the same fear of the night - because he, too, has seen the Tooth Fairy. So he returns to Darkness Falls and the story takes up speed.

Both he and the boy, called Michael, are stalked by the Tooth Fairy, they are attacked whenever they are in the dark, in her realm. As nobody believes them (another topic used in almost every horror movie), they are pretty much on their own. There are murders committed by the Tooth Fairy (for most of which Kyle gets blamed, just like it was when he'd been thirteen). It's only after the Tooth Fairy attacks the police station (because Kyle is kept there and the electricity is down) and almost all policemen and -women are killed, the son of the sheriff actually believes him, having seen Mathilda himself.

There's a long action sequence in the hospital where Kyle, Michael, Caitlin and some doctors and nurses are stalked - and all except for Kyle, Michael and Caitlin are killed, of course, that's how it works in horror movies. Kyle and the others are rescued in the lobby by the son of the sheriff who drives into the lobby with the car lights on. Light drives Mathilda away at the very last moment. In the lighthouse - where Mathilda lived when she was still alive - they try to get the large light running by activating the generator, but that proves difficult - and even afterwards Mathilda still wants them until…

Well, that would really be spoiling.

What I want to say with this rather long summary of the story is this: the movie is damn good. If you have the chance to watch it - and like horror movies - you should do it. It might scare you - but that's what horror movies are for, isn't it?

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