Movie Review: “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”Published by Clay Cane on Friday, August 26, 2011 at 12:37 pm.
Summary: Written by Matthew Robbins and Guillermo del Toro, this remake of a 1973 television movie stars Katie Holmes as Kim, an interior decorator who moves into a dilapidated old mansion with her architect boyfriend Alex and Sally, his young, emotionally disturbed daughter. The mansion is haunted with mythological creatures who feed on human teeth and the bodies of children. The pill-popping Sally is their latest prey.
Review: There are countless trappings that ruin a horror movie. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark falls into more than a few: Characters who stupidly refuse to leave a haunted house? Check! All gloss and no scares? Check! Constant rainy weather? Check! A spooky brunette child? Check! Previews that are better than the actual movie? Check!
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark isn’t afraid of a cliché, and it sucks every trite scenario to the bone. One would think horror films are fairly easy to get right, yet there are only one or two per year that succeed. The Miramax film mis “Presented by Guillermo del Toro,” but directed by Troy Nixey, del Toro’s protege. Del Toro is clearly used as a ploy to get people in seats. His signature style is nowhere to be found and it’s not even minutely similar to Pan’s Labyrinth, quality-wise.
In the opening, effective flashback scene, a creepy old man who lives in Blackwood mansion gorily attacks a helpless maid. Fast forward to the future, when the new family moves into the same mansion, with a depressed little girl, a father whose dream is to have the house grace the cover of Architectural Digest and Holmes, his new girlfriend. Throughout the film, you hope for the horror of the opening scene to make a peekaboo. But, with creatures that look like possessed rodents (that I can see on any New York City subway platform), constant whispers of “come play with us!” and eye-rolling dialogue—this movie will have you yelling, “Why don’t they just leave the damn house!”— Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark has a massive suspense deficiency.
The cast is strong but with such a weak storyline and b-rated scenarios, the actors’ performances feel as humdrum as the movie itself. I expected more from Miss Katie Holmes, or maybe I am still holding onto her fun performance in Teaching Mrs. Tingle. Yes, I know that was the ’90s. Holmes must’ve signed up for this film just to get out of the house.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is in theaters today.