Everyone has seen a police procedural at least once in their life. They are usually some good fun television to put on in the background. These stories are interesting enough to draw a person into their story, but not so much anyone has to devote too much attention to them. These are the types of shows everyone has heard about but no one can remember an episode of.
Darkness Falls is a straightforward mystery that is best served on the small screen. The movie follows Detective Jeff Anderson (Shawn Ashmore) whose wife recently committed suicide. Except she didn’t. This leads to a typical police procedural disguised as a movie. This type of story would is tailor made for a television show; but would it work as a feature?
The film never makes an attempt to surprise the audience. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it takes away much of the expected drama. For starters, everyone watching already knows what Anderson is struggling to prove. Many films are built on a similar premise. But there still needs to be a moment of vindication or realization. That is never the goal here which takes out much of the tension.
The plot boils down to one person’s obsession to uncover a truth the audience already knows. There is no sense of urgency. Even worse, it is no satisfying as others learn the truth. This may be due to the frequent exposition dumps in the script. At times, it is as if Darkness Falls is not content to just let the events of the movie sink in. Everything needs to be commented on in order to further the plot.
The music is very moody and adds to the story. Darkness Falls is a very dark film made more grim through its atmospheric use of music. Still, there are times when silence would have been better. This is not to say that the soundtrack is erratic. There are just moments when watching without music would have been more impactful. The opening scene is a great example.
The acting is top notch, if generic. Ashmore is appropriately angsty as Detective Ashmore. Meanwhile, Gary Cole is the right kind of creepy as the serial killer. It is like a high powered episode of a long running television show. This also sums up Darkness Falls in a nutshell. It is a perfectly serviceable movie that plays like the perfect police procedural to throw on while doing other things.