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Review: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

Aug. 24, 2011by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: A young girl (Bailee Madison) is sent to live with her estranged father (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend (Katie Holmes) in a creepy old mansion infested with ancient, evil gremlins.

REVIEW: DONíT BE AFRAID OF THE DARK is a film that should have been good, by the mere fact that itís a horror film written and produced by the legendary Guillermo del Toro, who for my money, is one of the true genre visionaries currently working in film. His PANíS LABYRINTH was jaw-dropping and even his mainstream work, like HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY, is infused with a love of film and fantasy thatís spellbinding.


What went wrong? Plenty it seems, as DONíT BE AFRAID OF THE DARK is just another ho-hum horror flick, and not the late summer sleeper a lot of fans have been hoping for. I should note that, despite his name being prominently displayed on all the advertising, del Toro did not direct this film. Rather, itís from first-timer Troy Nixey.

The film starts out pretty well with a creepy opening scene set a few hundred years ago where an old English gentleman knocks out his maid, chisels out her teeth (yikes) and feeds them to the basement dwelling gremlins that stole his child. So far, so good. This opening is creepy, imaginatively shot and exciting, and promised that this would be a truly spooky horror ride.


Alas, that was not to be, as the film quickly went downhill from there. The biggest culprit here is the uneven, clichťd script, which offers viewers nothing they havenít seen a thousand times before (it should be noted, this is based on an old seventies TV flick). Typically for the genre, we get the troubled child protagonist, played here by Bailee Madison, whoís perfectly fine in the role. The disbelieving adults are played by Katie Holmes, whoís mediocre, and Guy Pearce, who unusually is downright bad here. That said, I hesitate to blame either Holmes or Pearce, both of whom have nothing to work with.

Itís especially annoying how, despite the wild, violent incidents around the house, the adults refuse to believe that their child is being terrorized by something more than paranoia, even after she manages to kill a gremlin. Grrrr. Especially ludicrous is when the creepy old caretaker (Jack Thompson) is attacked by the gremlins, and stabbed a dozen times in the back but they rationalize that it must have been an accident. Yeah right. He fell into a knife. Backwards. A dozen times. Grrr again.


Technically, the film is fairly polished, with the CGI being perfectly acceptable, and the dark cinematography moody and stylish (although it was butchered by the substandard projection of the theater I saw this in). I should also note that despite the R-rating, DONíT BE AFRAID OF THE DARK is very tame, and the rating is ludicrous. INSIDIOUS was ten times scarier at PG-13 than this is. Overall, DONíT BE AFRAID OF THE DARK is a lukewarm horror flick, and worth seeing only if youíre a hardcore del Toro completest. That said, thereís no way this sours me on the guy, as I truly believe heíll give us something special with the upcoming PACIFIC RIM. Heís got the talent, this just isnít the best showcase.

Source: JoBlo.com

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3:19PM on 09/01/2011

Agreed

Pretty much agree on everything in this review. Also, either the projection in my theater wasn't the best as well, or maybe the film was simply shot poorly with too much low-lighting and nearly incomprehensible action...Besides, the cliche of oblivious/refusing to believe adults is such a terrible crutch now- sure any sane adult might be hesitant to believe such fantastical happenings, but any adult in the modern day has seen enough scary movies/shows or heard plenty of stories throughout their
Pretty much agree on everything in this review. Also, either the projection in my theater wasn't the best as well, or maybe the film was simply shot poorly with too much low-lighting and nearly incomprehensible action...Besides, the cliche of oblivious/refusing to believe adults is such a terrible crutch now- sure any sane adult might be hesitant to believe such fantastical happenings, but any adult in the modern day has seen enough scary movies/shows or heard plenty of stories throughout their lives so that they would NOT completely refuse to give credence to horrific perhaps supernatural events..
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10:01PM on 08/26/2011

Blerg

Indeed. I never knew if I was suppose to be laughing or actually be scared? The gremlins were actually quite comical but then they are suppose to somehow be frightening...

And yes, I was shocked too at the logic used in the movie, especially since Guillermo Del Toro wrote it. Even AFTER Katie Holmes believes the little girl, and stresses "they have to get her out of there...NOW" she lets her go back to her bed, in the dark... and the girl actually falls asleep like it's all fine. What?
Indeed. I never knew if I was suppose to be laughing or actually be scared? The gremlins were actually quite comical but then they are suppose to somehow be frightening...

And yes, I was shocked too at the logic used in the movie, especially since Guillermo Del Toro wrote it. Even AFTER Katie Holmes believes the little girl, and stresses "they have to get her out of there...NOW" she lets her go back to her bed, in the dark... and the girl actually falls asleep like it's all fine. What? People actually chuckled at this in the theater. Some weird business going on in this film.
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5:15AM on 08/25/2011
Saw it at the Fantasia Film Festival. Not that great a movie and it is true that this movie is nowhere near the R it got. There's jack shit scary or gruesome or bloody or violent about this movie, like, at all!!!
Do yourself a favor and pass on this. Even better, go watch the original.
Saw it at the Fantasia Film Festival. Not that great a movie and it is true that this movie is nowhere near the R it got. There's jack shit scary or gruesome or bloody or violent about this movie, like, at all!!!
Do yourself a favor and pass on this. Even better, go watch the original.
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-3
12:24PM on 08/24/2011

shocking...

Katie Holmes made a bad movie, how could that be. I mean look at her track record of making crap and only being in movies anymore bc she is married to a REAL actor who pulls his own weight. She is not, nor ever will be leading lady material. Sure she was in BB and a few others taht were good, but as a side character who could have been played by any actress.
Katie Holmes made a bad movie, how could that be. I mean look at her track record of making crap and only being in movies anymore bc she is married to a REAL actor who pulls his own weight. She is not, nor ever will be leading lady material. Sure she was in BB and a few others taht were good, but as a side character who could have been played by any actress.
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12:14PM on 08/24/2011
So just because of one review, that will completely change your attitude towards a film? I'm still seeing it.
So just because of one review, that will completely change your attitude towards a film? I'm still seeing it.
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10:19AM on 08/24/2011

Trailer sucked

Movie advertisement like: Guillermo del Toro, Quentin Tarantino, James Cameron presents, always end up sucking. What's next? Woody Allen presents?
Movie advertisement like: Guillermo del Toro, Quentin Tarantino, James Cameron presents, always end up sucking. What's next? Woody Allen presents?
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10:41AM on 08/24/2011
Pretty sure he's the last person to put his name on something he didn't write, direct, or act in.
Pretty sure he's the last person to put his name on something he didn't write, direct, or act in.
9:28AM on 08/24/2011
Damn was really hoping this was good but i could tell from the trailer that it seemed like another cheap and by the book horror story. I guess a good indicator this film sucks would be the aug 26 release date a weekend studios usually dump films there not proud of.
Damn was really hoping this was good but i could tell from the trailer that it seemed like another cheap and by the book horror story. I guess a good indicator this film sucks would be the aug 26 release date a weekend studios usually dump films there not proud of.
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+5
8:24AM on 08/24/2011

Damm

!
!
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+2
8:07AM on 08/24/2011
I think he's much better at creating his own material than adapting pre-existing properties. So yeah, I have high hopes for Pacific Rim, too.
I think he's much better at creating his own material than adapting pre-existing properties. So yeah, I have high hopes for Pacific Rim, too.
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