Darkness Falls (2003 film)

Darkness Falls is a 2003 supernatural horror film written by Joe Harris and John Fasano, and directed by Jonathan Liebesman. The film stars Chaney Kley and Emma Caulfield. The film follows Kyle Walsh (Kley), who witnesses his mother’s murder at the hands of the spirit of a woman lynched by an angry mob more than 150 years ago. Twelve years later, he returns to his childhood home because Michael Greene (Lee Cormie), the young brother of his romantic interest Caitlin (Caulfield), is being stalked by Kyle's mother’s supernatural killer. Kyle must protect them from this powerful enemy and put an end to its killing spree.

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


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 exposed her face to light and hanged her. Before her death, Matilda placed a curse on the town and swore 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 tooth. If anyone lays eyes upon her, they will forever be marked for her vengeance.

In 1990, Kyle Walsh, an antisocial teenager befriended by Caitlin Greene (Emily Browning), 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 (Emma Caulfield) telephones Kyle (Chaney Kley) to ask for his help with her younger brother Michael (Lee Cormie), 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, who 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. A lightning storm blacks out the whole town, and 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, 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, during which Kyle's right sleeve catches 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 a gold coin, indicating that Matilda is gone and her curse is lifted.



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


According to review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, 9% of critics out of 129 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".[2] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 23 out of 100, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews", based on reviews from 27 critics.[3]

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."[4] Although the film had a "deliberate sparseness of gore," Holden noted the "demonization of a benign childhood phantom" as the film's "cleverest notion."[4]

Kevin Thomas of the LA 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."[5]

Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B-" on an A+ to F scale.[6]

Box officeEdit

Darkness Falls debuted at number one its opening weekend.[7] 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]


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 alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Darkness Falls on Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ Darkness Falls on Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on 18 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Darkness Falls". Metacritic. Retrieved June 13, 2015.
  4. ^ a b Holden, Stephen (24 January 2003). "FILM REVIEW; A Child Losing a Tooth? Better Keep the Light On". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  5. ^ Thomas, Kevin (24 January 2003). "'Darkness' Descends, Despite All Its Energy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  6. ^ "CinemaScore". cinemascore.com.
  7. ^ "A Spirited Debut for 'Darkness'". Los Angeles Times. 27 January 2003. Retrieved 4 June 2017.

External linksEdit