Review by Mark Schwab
Jarno Lee Vinsencius' short film DARKNESS FALLS is shrouded in mystery from the start but begins with a familiar set up - a young woman wakes up in the middle of nowhere (in this case a snow-blanketed forest) with no idea of who she is or how she got there. This device is used so often because it immediately puts the filmmaker in a powerful position to manipulate the audience - since they know much more than you do, the key information can slip out in dribs and drabs to keep up the suspense. Fortunately for Vinsencius, this familiarity does not ultimately detract from the film as our amnesiac-addled young heroine Melissa (Joanna Haggblom) soon finds herself in a paranoid nightmare after receiving a weird letter from David (Demis Tzivis) cryptically saying that he can explain her predicament.
Ok, let's get something out of the way right off the bat; this 15-minute short is expertly made. The cinematography is hauntingly executed, the sound design carefully crafted and the performances are excellent. From a pure filmmaking/craftmanship angle, it must be said and admired that DARKNESS FALLS looks and sounds expensive.
But I do have one quibble with it that knocked off one Diamond for me.
Personally, I love the short form movie because it isn't easy to tell a story that actually works in 15 minutes or less. It's a great filmmaking exercise and won't break your bank like a feature film. Short films are an art unto themselves to be savored and DARKNESS FALLS just does not feel like a crafted short film. It tends to rush through its plot points and set-ups. There is also one scene where I kind of sighed in dissapointment when one of the characters explains the entire plot with a monologue. Considering the visual skill displayed everywhere else, this scene felt a bit lazy.
DARKNESS FALLS (in its current form) feels designed to raise money for a feature film version of itself. Now that is not a bad thing at all and in fact I hope it actually works because I would be VERY interested to see this story spread its wings fully over 90+ minutes. The story idea behind the mystery would make for a great feature film or even an 8-part Netflix series. If I personally had millions of dollars to burn, I'd know my money would be in safe hands with Jarno Lee Vinsencius' excellent science fiction vision.