Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2010)

Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, Bailee Madison, Jack Thompson
A young girl sent to live with her father and his new girlfriend discovers creatures in her new home who want to claim her as one of their own.
While it's pleasantly atmospheric and initially quite scary, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark ultimately fails to deliver the skin-crawling chills of the original.
  • Miramax Films Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 26 Aug 2011 Released:
  • 03 Jan 2012 DVD Release:
  • $24.0M Box office:

Trailer:

House of Gothicism8/10
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is exactly the kind of horror movie you want to hate. It's a remake, it involves a child in peril, and it contains some (and I say "some") very nasty violence. Just watch--you'll have trouble hating it.

Guillermo del Toro's new collaborative effort with first-time director Troy Nixey is, simply put, horror done right. There's a lot here that can be found in any horror movie that comes out now, but this one succeeds for relying on tone and setting rather than blood and guts. The acting from all three leads is surprisingly good, and Nixey shines as well behind the camera.

However, at the heart of the film is a ballsy story co-written by del Toro that really keeps the film stable. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is originally based on a 1973 British TV movie that has been hailed as one of the scariest movies ever made. The remake features a new main character: Sally, a child, played by Bailee Madison. Sally moves into a new Gothic mansion with her father (Guy Pearce) and a new stepmother (Katie Holmes). There, she discovers a ventilation system where she hears breathy voices calling to play with her. At first, the voices are friendly. Then, they're vicious and violent.

The violence of the movie is one of the reasons why this movie succeeds so nicely. The first scene is grisly and is, without a doubt, the reason why Don't Be Afraid of the Dark earned its R-rating rather than its intended PG-13. There isn't constant violence. In fact, there isn't even that much of it. Most of it is bloodless, but all of it is enough to make us squeamish and afraid.

Another area in which the movie excels in that respect is its design. The mansion that Nixey and del Toro chose is gorgeous. The intense lighting, which Nixey noted as "inspired by Rembrandt" in the Q&A following the film, is moody and adds to the heavy tone of the movie. The house is just creepy on its own, but it becomes creepier thanks to the creature design. Unlike what the trailer tells you, the creatures are pretty tiny. What creeped me out about them was the loud, shrill screeches they let out. It'll give you chills. Keep a keen ear and listen for del Toro, as he voices a few of the creatures.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is a very fun and very creepy horror movie experience. Though not without its flaws, it has a strong story stabilized by good characters and a surprisingly dark ending, and it's got some good acting too. It's hard not to be absorbed in the mesmerizing light pools of the mansion, and it's even harder not to be entertained. As usual in del Toro films, darkness and unseen monsters reign, and as usual, it's pretty damn unnerving.
Not much need to be afraid of this remake4/10
Pros: beautiful scenery/sets, a few good jumps, and about 5-10 minutes of eerie atmosphere

Cons: not very scary, too much CGI'd gremlins, and a very predictable/slow plot

Conclusion: rent the original and skip this remake

The much anticipated, by me, remake of the 1973 made for TV movie of the same name left me feeling extremely disappointed. The plot was fairly simple. A young girl Sally (Bailee Madison) moves in with her father Alex (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes), into a house Alex and Kim are fixing up to sell. Soon upon arriving, adventurous Sally discovers the house has a basement and that the family is not alone. The basement's fireplace is inhabited by little CGI'd creatures that terrorize the family, especially Sally. The actors I felt all did an adequate job playing their parts, especially young Sally (Bailee Madison), who played a convincingly cynical little girl fed up with being 'sold' by her mother to live with her father. Overall the movie was very predictable and offered very few scary moments. The creatures from the original, people dressed in little goblin costumes, were sparingly showed. I think it was way more effective than the over-shown little gremlins in this movie, which looked to me like Chihuahuas that could speak. Save your money and skip this one!
Nothing To Be Afraid Of3/10
When I first heard about the plot of the "Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark" remake, I was disappointed that they decided to add the unnecessary element of a child to the story. Ironically, the portrayal of the daughter by Bailee Madison was one of the few highlights this movie had to offer. With all the creepy Gothic imagery, spiderwebs and shadows, this movie failed to create any of the suspense generated by the fairly moderate surroundings of the original. The CGI demons were absolutely ridiculous, and with complete certainty I can state that the raisin- faced-doll demons of the 40-year-old original TV movie were much creepier. Katie Holmes, although likable, must be one of the world's worst actresses, unable of conjuring up any emotion other then a perky turned up nose for all occasions. It is truly remarkable to see her constantly upstaged by the child actress in this film who forces you to believe everything she is feeling. I can only recommend this as a starter horror film for young children, or background TV while you pay your bills online - you won't miss anything.
Inept, clichéd, poorly edited, huge unexplained plot holes5/10
This movie is totally inept. It's one of those films where the characters behave so stupidly you can't believe it. Every scene is a horror film cliche. As for horror, there is none. Some of the scenes are so darkly lit you cannot tell what is going on and I have a feeling the cinematographer did not know what he was doing. As for the script, plot holes abound. Things happen and then are dropped. Characters pop in the movie and are never seen again. One scene will suffice. SPOILER: The grounds keeper is attacked by the creatures with screwdrivers and box cutters, he staggers up the stairs, falls face down on the floor in front of his wife and the little girl. When the husband comes home, the man's wife tells him that her husband has had an "accident". No one asks how he had an "accident" with a screwdriver stuck into his eye and a pair of scissors in his shoulder. I was really disappointed with this movie. I would say save your money.
A real missed opportunity5/10
Well. Where to start?

This is a film that starts badly, and save two relatively well executed scenes, gets worse. If you have seen the original seventies TV movie you will be sorely disappointed. What made the original frightening was the bareness of the plot, the ordinariness of the location and the bleakness of the ending. All of these elements have been removed. The story is over written, the location of overly ornate, and the ending, although quite nasty, is not as disturbing as it should have been. Add to this the frankly deplorable CGI and iffy direction. Well...

The kid is good though (that's where the 4 points comes from)

Verdict: Don't be afraid of avoiding don't be afraid of the dark