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Parents' Guide to

Darkness Falls

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Cop vs. killers in awful, violent action-thriller.

Movie NR 2020 84 minutes
Darkness Falls Poster Image

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French director Julien Seri has delivered a good-looking Los Angeles noir that quickly becomes nearly unwatchable, thanks to wonky dialogue, shrill performances, a flat story, and overbearing music. Darkness Falls wants to tell the story of an obsessed character whom nobody will believe, but all of the characters simply yell at each other, occasionally throwing tantrums. It's frustrating to see the main character increasingly ignoring his adoring son, with no apparent emotional consequences. Meanwhile, the thundering, grinding score sounds like animals hammering on an old 1980s synthesizer, and the result is more aggravation than suspense.

Things truly get absurd when Jeff locks himself in his old apartment and hangs up photos scribbled with red marker and maps covered in pushpins and red yarn. (It turns out the villains have a similar setup ... but if they're so perfect, why would they leave such an obvious record of their work on the wall?) Jeff claims he can find the killers because he has begun to "think like they do" -- an idea stolen from the more intelligent, subtler 1986 movie Manhunter -- but Seri doesn't seem to have any idea how to show a character actually thinking. And despite Cole providing the movie's only calm in his role as a creepy killer, the scene that explains his reasons for killing is just nonsense. In the end, shots of moody city lights is all Darkness Falls has to offer.

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