Saturday, June 13, 2020

Darkness Falls

Seriously, any serial killer who intentionally decides to kill a cop’s wife when they have the whole lawless city of Los Angeles to choose from is just asking for trouble. This murderous father-and-son tandem does so anyway. They get away with it for a while, because their M.O. is so despicably evil—they force their victims to commit suicide. Nonetheless, Det. Jeff Anderson will eventually come for them in Julien Seri’s Darkness Falls (a.k.a. Anderson Falls), which just released on VOD.

Sadly, Anderson’s wife Elizabeth is Mark and Adam Whitver’s latest victim. Tragically, the detective returned home just a little too late. He saw two shadowy men walking away from their building and his son Frankie claimed to see a strange man sitting on his bed, but the department stubbornly insists it is a suicide. Anderson’s career takes a nosedive as he becomes obsessed with suicide scenes, but he is vindicated when one of the Whitvers’ victims miraculously survives. Captain Kelly Alderman (his former partner, who received the promotion he had been in line for) now believes him, but she can only devote limited resources to the case. Basically, he is still on his own.

The first act is pretty compelling stuff, in a pitch-black, soul-searing kind of way, but the rest of the film is hopelessly contrived. Giles Daoust’s screenplay is distractingly reliant on coincidence, while also unleashing plot twists that are impossible to buy into. Despite Anderson’s extreme emotional stress, it is impossible to believe he would do some of things he does (and we are not talking about roughing up the Whitvers).

As usual, Gary Cole is the best part of Darkness. His steely intensity as Papa Whitver is pretty darn chilling. Frankly, Shawn Ashmore broods hard, but he is still a bit outmatched as Det. Anderson. Playing Whitver fils, Richard Harmon is just a pale shadow of Cole’s fierce father, but that sort of reflects their relationship dynamic. There is solid support throughout, including Daniella Alonso, whose portrayal of Alderman is probably better than the film deserves. Plus, fan favorite Lin Shaye brings some dignity and gravitas to the film as Anderson’s long-suffering mother.

Let’s be very clear. The cast is not responsible for this film’s faults. Everything wrong with Darkness Falls is right there in the script. As a result, a lot of hard work was expended in a losing effort. Honestly, this could be the most frustratingly film of the year, so far. Not recommended (sorry, but no), Darkness Falls is now available on VOD platforms.