In “Darkness Falls,” Shawn Ashmore, playing a police detective, gets this crazy eye thing going when he’s trying to “think like they do” to figure out who murdered his wife, and made it look like a suicide.
Does he do that on TV’s “The Rookie?” Because man, it’s unnerving and it comes out of nowhere, a blast of “A Beautiful Mind” thrown into an early scene of a violent, grimly ridiculous serial killer thriller.
Considering we’ve seen Ashmore give away what he’s about to see in a moment when he’s supposed to be SHOCKED at finding his wife, bled out in the bathtub — while holding his sleepy little boy in his arms — the crazy eyes make a certain sense. He’s not got this whole acting/facial “indicators” thing worked out.
Yeah, that’s partly a direction problem. But Ashmore stands out as bad performing a script that was never going to be anything but awful, a dispiriting and ham-fisted psychological thriller with potential, and little else.
We’ve seen two armed strangers break in on the woman in the tub, the older man (Gary Cole) knowing her name and the name of her little boy asleep a few rooms away.
“Swallow these,” he orders her, giving her pills. As she dozes off in the tub of warm water, the razor comes out. It’s the perfect murder-disguised-as-suicide.
Detective Jeff Anderson (Ashmore) is eaten up with this loss, his lovely artist wife, mother of his child, taken. The little boy says “I dreamed a bad guy came into my room,” a clue unexplored. Jeff just KNOWS his wife didn’t kill herself.
He haunts every 10-56 (suicide) radio call in greater LA, “the suicide guy,” piling up departmental complaints which his captain and former partner (Daniella Alonso) tries to protect him from.
It’s been months. He needs to move on, get a homicide case that’ll take his mind off his loss.
“I AM working a homicide,” he growls.
And so he is, interviewing the first survivor of this string of suspicious suicides, palming off the kid on his mother (Lin Shaye), trying to “think like they do” to piece together the puzzle.
That mystery is just…daft. The confrontations with the villains (Richard Harmon is the co-killer)? Trite.
“Doesn’t it strike you how you and I are a lot alike?”
An interrogation that begins with “Tell me your story” and LITERALLY chases that line, seconds later, with “Why are you TELLING me all this?”
That is some seriously stupid writing, Giles Daoust. I guess “The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot” was inadequate writing prep for a police procedural.
French director Julien Seri (“Nightfare”) wasn’t going to save you, or the dude with the crazy eyes. “Darkness Falls” fails all up and down the line.
MPAA Rating: unrated, graphic violence, profanity
Cast: Shawn Ashmore, Daniella Alonso, Gary Cole, Richard Harmon and Lin Shaye
Credits: Directed by Julien Sire, script by Giles Daoust. A Vertical release.
Running time: 1:23