Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark Review

I’m not afraid of the dark, but I do fear for the future of mainstream horror films.

As with most any other move of this genre, Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark is about an innocent little girl. Only at eleven, and in typical hollywood horror style, Sally is more vulnerable than most.

Conveniently on medication for her wilful behaviour, Sally has been sent to live with her ambitious father and his new and most definitely not young girlfriend by her now frustrated mother.

Struggling to adjust to her new life and surroundings, Sally begins to explore the abandoned grounds of her architect father’s recently restored home.

Of course, sometimes there’s a reason why people abandon a place; reasons that really should be left undisturbed.

As Sally discovers a hidden basement in the mansions grounds that leads to a forgotten past she learns that being afraid of the dark might be a sensible choice.

With Halloween looming on the horizon, it follows that the inevitable avalanche of banal horror films are now unleashed upon our cinemas.

Produced by Guillermo del Toro, and with Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes on board, I was expecting a lot more from Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark than the predictable generic fare horror films usually served up at this time of year.

Lamentably, this isn’t the case.

All the hoary old horror clichés are trotted out in this remake of a tv movie from the seventies.

So we have the little girl who can see things nobody else can, whom none of the adults believe.

The parents who remain sceptical even as an attempted murder takes place in their home, refusing to leave their precious investment, and a creepy old caretaker who’s a distant relative of the previous occupant and knows all of the dark secrets that lie within the grounds.

Guy Pearce, who’s easily one of the best actors of his generation, is depressingly on autopilot for the entire duration as the predictably one dimensional Alex.

Joining him on an automated journey is Guillermo del Toro, who seems to have repatriated an old fairy tale he used in for Hellboy II as inspiration for the little creatures we shouldn’t be afraid of when the lights go out.

Seemingly keener to produce rather than direct these days, del Toro’s new cinematic groove has yet to glimpse the heights of his fantastical yarns of yore he’s directed like Pan’s Labyrinth.

Katie Holmes is fine as Kim, Alex’s new partner and boring source of antagonism between daughter and father, as she continues to kick start her own film career away from the real life shadow cast by her larger than life husband.

And Bailee Madison as Sally is probably the best thing going for Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark, which is more of a sad indictment on the people around her than anything else.

So while you shouldn’t really be afraid of the dark at your age, I’d be wary of investing any of your time or money in this latest oeuvre to fall from Guillermo del Toro’s cinematic production line.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

October 2011