Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Darkness Falls

My wife went to see Chicago with a friend, because it's hard to get me into the theatres. (That means it's hard to get me to go, not that they won't let me in.) She liked it. Said Queen Latifah did a good job. Was stunned by Renee Z's performance. Oh, and Catherine Z-Jones Douglas was good too. I'm sure she was, but she wouldn't have to be very good to get my attention. That was Friday. I did a lot of yardwork - mowed, edged, trimmed hedges, hauled branches to the curb, dug weeds out of the border trenches - in 90 degree heat and a lot of humidity. Sweated a lot, worked up a thirst. Started downing Bass Ale. More than one. While she was watching Chicago, I ordered take-out ribs with beans, fries, cole slaw, and garlic bread. Washed it down with Bass Ale. I also went to the video store and rented a movie. I didn't know what was supposed to be good so I settled for a recent horror flick, Darkness Falls. I like horror, though most of it isn't any good, which makes it pretty much like the rest of the industry. How bad are today's movies? On more than one occasion I've rented one, only to pop it into the VCR and find out I've already seen it. They don't stick in the mind the way books do: "In the summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains." "It was the worst of times, it was the best of times." "All happy families are like one another; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

Anyway, I was looking to kill time and this movie killed it nicely. And a lot of people get killed in it too. Like our hero's mother somewhere near the beginning. A sweet, caring mom, the kind you don't see much of anymore. She gets sliced and diced and, oh well, that's that. Many more followed her, but I didn't care. Their characters were so thinly drawn they seemed better off dead anyway. I got the gist of things pretty quickly. The thing about a movie like this is that you can go to the bathroom a bunch of times without pausing the movie and not miss anything. You can also go to the refrigerator for another Bass Ale. And you can keep drinking it without losing the plot thread. And if you keep drinking it you'll eventually head for the head again.

Basically what got it all going was that this town had executed an old woman for some crime she didn't commit just because she was ugly. I don't remember what the crime was. I don't remember how they executed her. Maybe burned her at the stake. But before she expired, she put a curse on the town, and everytime one of their kids loses a tooth she comes back as a maleficent tooth fairy, seeking murderous revenge on the town's children and anyone who gets in her way, swooshing through windows, levitating in lighthouse towers, dropping out of the darkness like a vampire's spawn, except she doesn't want to drink your blood, just spill it. Thus, our hero's mom's murder. The story's not about the boy's growing up without his mother, and with the memory of her horrible demise. No, in Hollywood, once you're dead, that's it. Life goes on. We pick up with the boy as a young man. Maladjusted, to be sure, but a lot of years gone by. He's obsessed with staying in the light. That's the only place the tooth fairy can't get him. That's also about the only rule inhibiting the fairy's choice to lead an afterlife of murderous mayhem. There is no cosmos here. Her presence doesn't imply a Christian or even a Swedenborgian hierarchy of powers and principalities. She's just a nasty ghost who shows up in the course of ordinary life in an American town. It's hard to scare me with something I know can't exist, especially after four or five (who's counting?) Bass Ales. I need more rules than just "Stay in the light." It took our hero a long time to convince people of the need to follow this advice. You might think that the light is supposed to represent something, but there is no parable, fable, or allegory here, because there is no cosmos. I already said that, didn't I? Excuse me a moment while I go to the refrigerator.

Be right back. Have to use the boy's room.

Okay. The movie's most memorable line: "All this because of a fuckin' tooth."
The movie's most understated line: "She comes at you fast, so be ready."

I felt like I ought to ask for my money back, but as they say, "In life, youse takes youse chances."

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