Directed by Jarno Lee Vinsencius Starring Joanna Häggblom and Demis Tzivis Short Film Review by Catherine Pearson
If it’s a masterclass in short filmmaking that you’re after, look no further than Darkness Falls, aka Mörkret Faller, a suspenseful sci-fi with breathtaking visuals and a killer twist.
Melissa (Joanna Häggblom) awakes in the deep snow of a wintry forest with no recollection as to how she got there. She tries to access her memory with the help of a therapist but to no avail; she cannot understand what would have brought her to the forest and why her sleep has been so disturbed since. Melissa then receives a letter from David (Demis Tzivis), a stranger who seems to know her story and understand her confusion. They meet and he attempts to explain the reality she has awoken to…but they’re running out of time.
Darkness Falls may be billed as a sci-fi film but its aesthetic and tone are perfectly in-keeping with Nordic noir. Filmed in Sweden, the setting is snowy and the sky heavy with the eerie sense that something dangerous lurks among the shadows. The cinematography is absolutely beautiful and the ominous rolling mist almost a character in itself as it is captured swirling around the bewildered Melissa in her new and foreign environment. Every frame is a piece of dark and brooding art, with its stark black and white colours and the hundreds of greys in between, and the image so professionally rendered.
Joanna Häggblom’s performance is the ideal blend of fearful and solemn, as though her terror is muted by the heavy sky and the incomprehension of finding herself somewhere she has never seen before. Demis Tzivis acts well alongside this quiet fear with a greater sense of urgency that accelerates the narrative and pushes the audience into the second act. After all, once Melissa knows what has happened to her, the repercussions are inevitable.
This film is genuinely chilling, not only from the impregnable cold of the snowy setting but from the lurking shadow that haunts Melissa as she tries to sleep. The creepy unknown figure, Melissa’s complete incomprehension and the ever-present, slow and gradually building soundtrack come together to create a suspenseful piece that you’ll stick with and want to revisit after a first viewing. The camera work is very professional, not only in its sharpness of image and its steadiness but its capturing and blurring of light for dramatic effect, the use of time-lapse on a beautiful night sky and the stunning tracking and crane shots of the deep and snowy forest on which the film opens. Even the graphic used for the credits is a piece of art; as black and white as the images that follow, the shapes that appear to burst on the screen are other-worldly and look like DNA under a microscope, an idea that has greater meaning by the film’s end.
Darkness Falls is a must-see for sci-fi, noir and thriller fans and is testament to the hard work and vision of a small team of people. The film was written, edited and produced by its director Jarno Lee Vinsencius and shot with only two crew members, an incredible feat and almost unbelievable when you see it in all of its high-definition cinematic glory.