“Darkness Falls” (2016): Mystery Abounds in Riveting Swedish Science Fiction Short



Swedish science-fiction thriller Darkness Falls is a gripping, great-looking effort that belies its DIY approach. Writer/director Jarno Lee Vinsencius also did the cinematography for the short film, aided in the filmmaking by only two other crew members –  assistant director Devis Tzivis, who also stars in the film, and sound recordist Michael Tiedtke – and his cast. Vincsencius edited and produced the short, as well. The result is an engrossing tale of alien observation and interplanetary intrigue.

After some gorgeous opening credit and establishing shots of a snowy, isolated wooded area, the film introduces us to Melissa (Joanna Hagblom), who is asleep on the frozen ground. When she awakes, she has no recollection of who she is or how she got where she is. A psychiatrist attempts to help her decipher her dreams, but when she receives a letter from a stranger asking her to meet at a diner the next day, the path to unlocking her past truly begins.

That path is not without its secrets and danger, though. David (Devis Tzivis), the man who wrote the letter to Melissa, offers to help her discover the truth, likening what they are both going through to a Stephen King novel.

Joanna Hagblom stars as Melissa, a woman who wakes up in a snowy forest with no recollection of her past in the Swedish science fiction short film Darkness Falls.

Joanna Hagblom is quite good as the confused Melissa. She seems to underplay the role at times but I’m of the belief that her character was meant to react to situations in that manner, rather than Hagblom not stretching her acting chops fully. Devis Tzivis stands out as David; Tzivis has the task of conveying much of the crux of the story and he does so in a captivating manner. Without giving too many specifics away, the supporting cast also gives solid performances, particularly Niclas Fransson as Felix, a man who claims that he can help Melissa uncover her true identity.

Loaded with impressive visuals, well-framed shots, and an air of unease and mystery, Darkness Falls shows that Jarno Lee Vinsencius is adept at all of the different tasks that he underwent in making this film. The short holds a great deal of promise that his first feature film, Evil Rising, will be a work to watch for. Vinsencius wrote, produced, and directed Evil Rising – due in early 2017 – and judging from Darkness Falls, this promising filmmaker has a bright future ahead.

Darkness Falls: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)


Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.