Review: DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (2011) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 26 October 2011



In 2007, acclaimed filmmaker Guillermo del Toro has helped his protege and first-time director Juan Antonio Bayona crafted a spooky and richly-textured "haunted house" horror movie in THE ORPHANAGE. Four years later, del Toro attempts to replicate the successful formula again with another first-time director (Troy Nixey) in a remake of a 1973 made-for-television horror movie DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK. But this time, del Toro's second attempt in tackling "haunted house" horror genre is an awfully tired slog that is neither scary nor interesting in many levels.

DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK opens promisingly enough with a creepy and violent prologue that establishes the dark horror behind the Blackwood Manor more than a century ago, but what follows next is an entirely different story altogether. Cut to the present day, little Sally (Bailee Madison) has just moved into the run-down estate with her architect father, Alex (Guy Pearce) and his interior designer girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes). The run-down estate is currently undergoing an extensive restoration, while Sally is looking all bored and dejected. Apparently she feels unhappy of moving in with them but all that changes when she finds out there's a secret basement found hidden in the wall behind the staircase. It's the kind of discovery that raises her curiosity to explore further. Down below, she heard voices calling her name somewhere inside the fire pit, telling her they want to be set free so they can play with her. Sally figures she has finally found a worthy companion but unfortunately "they" turns out to be a bunch of little ghouls who feeds on children's teeth and taking lives to replenish their souls.

Technical-wise, DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK does blessed with Oliver Stapleton's eerily atmospheric cinematography while Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders' chilling music score evokes the kind that recalls the horror movies of the yesteryears. However, Troy Nixey's direction is terribly uninspired. Once the ghouls are revealed, it's hardly scary at all since they are nothing more than computer-generated fakery. Worst still, most of the suspense feels lazy and pedestrian.

The actors, in the meantime, are terribly a mixed bag. Guy Pearce gives an unusually dull performance as a typical father figure role, while Katie Holmes fares slightly better with some worthy performance in her role. But little Bailee Madison turns out to be a scene-stealer here with a captivating performance as the emotionally-distressed Sally.

It's rather odd that this movie is such a yawner you wouldn't believe it's actually written by Guillermo del Toro and Matthew Robbins. DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK is simply one of the worst horror movies of the year.

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