In Darkness Falls, Detective Jeff Anderson (Shawn Ashmore) seems to have it all. A devoted husband and father, Anderson is also next in line for a big promotion to Captain of the precinct as well. All of that comes crashing down however, when his wife suddenly commits suicide. Believing that she’s really been murdered, Anderson becomes obsessed to with the investigation and bringing the mysterious killers to justice.
Directed by Julien Seri (Combattants), Darkness Falls is a (mostly) fun genre thriller that almost comes together. While the film clicks along at a brief 86-minute runtime, its pacing feels uneven in places and still feels about 10 minutes too long. Filled with clichés and convenient moments, Falls unfortunately feels too often like the culmination of stories that we’ve seen many times before. Even so, an energetic performance by star Shawn Ashmore (X-Men) keeps the film engaging for the audience. As a husband and father grieving the loss of his wife, Ashmore is firing on all cylinders, fluctuating wildly between rage-fueled obsession and love for his child. (Admittedly though, a film about a rogue cop that pushes the boundaries of law enforcement does feel awkwardly out of touch with culture with its release at this particul moment.) In addition, veteran Gary Cole (The Art of Racing in the Rain) is also clearly enjoying the chance to play against type as a cold but vicious serial killer. Normally known for his roles as gentle supporting characters, Cole’s cool demeaner as the maniacal Witver effectively offsets Ashmore’s more erratic detective and effectively highlights the imbalance of power between the two foes.
Interestingly, Falls points out the dangerous results that can occur when the sins of the father are passed on to their children. For example, Falls recognizes the danger that a lack of self-awareness can create for future generations through Anderson’s relationship with his child. As he dives further into his obsession with catching the Witvers, Anderson becomes increasingly distant from his own son. Fueled by rage, he justifies his neglect of his child through his belief that he’s only doing what is necessary to bring his wife’s killers to justice. However, by juxtaposing the Andersons’ father-son relationship with that of the Witvers, Falls showcases the poison that can be created when toxicity flows between generations. Just as the elder Witver has passed on the pain of his past to his son, Anderson’s obsession with revenge causes him to run the risk of doing the same with his own young child. In other words, similar to Witver’s poisonous paternal relationship, Anderson’s grief and anger continue to push him over the edge and he begins to place a wedge between himself and his family. In order for Anderson to truly save his son, he must first decide to do either battle with his own inner demons or run the risk of creating new ones within his own home.
In the end, Darkness Falls is a flawed but enjoyable ride that allows for veterans Ashmore and Cole to step out of their comfort zones. More importantly though, by recognizing the pain that can be caused by our own inability to deal with our own issues, Falls also points to the potential for passing that on to our own children and thereby damaging their future.
Darkness Falls premieres online on June 12th, 2020.