Last Updated on October 2, 2021 by Sean Donlevy
“Saaahhhllleeeyyyhhh, come and play with uuuussss!”
Generally speaking, most horror films are simply aimed at a very narrow fan base or they are bad and thus the best! And then some that are just brilliant. However, the reviews about the Don’t Be Afraid of The Dark movie are mixed, and many of them are not that positive. Some people, however, like this movie a lot.
The original movie from 1973 was super scary, but this review is focused on the 2010/2011 remake of this movie. The reason there are two years is that the movie release was postponed from 2010 to 2011.
Guillermo del Toro, like many other talent-killing filmmakers, has made both great and less great movies. But, for the most part, he delivers both as a director and when he sits and writes or produces.
His resume is one of the more impressive in the present. Thus, one must draw the simple conclusion that Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, which he has written and produced, must be much better than most horror movies. But according to the reviews, this doesn’t seem to be the case. This is first and foremost not a horror movie but a fantasy story with horror elements. That in itself doesn’t have to be wrong or bad, but I admit right now that I wasn’t scared, road, or even entertained.
The story takes us to Rhode Island where the architect couple Kim (Katie Holmes) & Alex (Guy Pearce) have acquired an old house that was previously owned by a tormented artist that we get to meet in the prologue in a hurry.
Alex has a daughter living with her mother, but for unknown reasons, her daughter is sent to live with Alex and Kim whom girl Sally (Bailee Madison) has not even met. As made for problems from the beginning and the girl is also a little special.
It doesn’t take long before the house begins to reveal its grim secrets and a bunch of underground creatures start to grab Sally’s attention, but they do not have nice intentions.
It is clear that the daughter and Kim are on a collision course and the relationship with the father is equally strained. The fact that the child sees creatures does not make things better. Sally is fighting the creatures alone as Kim begins to realize that there is something fundamentally wrong with the girl.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is a textbook version of a movie in the genre. There is not a lot of surprises in this movie, and some people argue that it is very predictable. The whole plot and all the twists and turns are revealed at the beginning of the film. Then you slam into real violence and let ugly creatures whine into the camera, but much more than that it will not and that fear feeling
The directing task has been entrusted to Troy Nixey who is an everyday illustrator and who got the chance to make his first feature film here. Clearly under the watchful eye of Del Toro, because you recognize the style. However, Nixey does not succeed in pumping any energy into the film and despite the fact that the creatures are well-made, it all seems more silly than captivating.
Sadly, the opening scene is promising, really promising.
Child actors are available of all kinds. Most people are not good, because when you have your own children you usually know how children are, what they do, and how they speak. The demands of the film world and know how to choosing child actors is difficult. But sometimes you succeed. At first glance, little Bailee seems to be a sweet choice. A kind of micro-variant of Katie Holmes, actually. But then you realize that this is a child playing according to instructions. Bailee is the best actor in this squad and she is not particularly convincing.
In fact, the most compelling in the film are the creatures who are supposed to be the source of fear and they are skillfully animated, but in the end not very scary.
And so we have Katie Holmes. She is not even an ordinary actor, but here she manages to get through in the movie. Holmes could have been replaced by just about anyone and the result would not have been worse.
And then we should not talk about Guy Pearce who makes a role interpretation that seeks equivalence in the general interest. Alex is a smooth character who is played just as smoothly by Pearce, who obviously forgot about the autopilot and does just as much as he needs to get the paycheck.
In addition, huge logical holes, untapped opportunities, and hope for points of interest that only become disruptive in the long run. And then we have not even touched on the unrealistic of the film’s antagonists, who typically become smarter and more daring the further into the film you come.
In this film, however, the beasts emerge prematurely, are too chubby, and only arouses some amusement if you are not stubborn in the belief that this is a horror movie in which case you are annoyed more than entertained.
Everything is not evil in the case of cellar horror. The movie still keeps what it promises in terms of quality. The quality on canvas is a strong and flawless experience and it is important in a film that relies on the great dynamic between black and light. Soft colors and image-accurate horror movie feel. The sound could have been better. Extras are available so you can see the backdrop and some technical secrets. The music in the film is, as one would expect, functional but not more than that.
The movie is on the cusp of stereotyping and does not offer a single surprise. It goes from promising to textbook and the acting is overall not that great. There are of course worse movies but when del Toro is behind it, you have the right to expect with better than what Pearce and Holmes manage to produce