Review: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

At the start of the film a little girl (Bailee Madison) arrives in a big dark mansion in the middle of nowhere, to live with her father (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend (Katie Holmes).

Having been sent there from LA by her flaky mother she isn't very happy about it and though the film was barely 10 minutes old I shared her antipathy.

Big dark scary houses are about the least scary places imaginable and there's no vitality to this location or the situation. In the house the child is menaced by strange little goblins, tooth fairy creatures that resemble diminutive Gremlin/Golem hybrids and swarm around the house at night like the packs of monkeys that clamber around the rock of Gibraltar.

It's not unusual for the actions of the characters in horror films to defy sense, but in this film even the monsters' actions don't add up. They seem to have the run of the place yet never really apply themselves to the straightforward task of luring the girl down into the cellar.

It's a remake of a cult 1973 TV movie which comes as a bit of a surprise because it's so generically bland and obvious you wouldn't expect it to have limited its lack of inspiration to just one source.

Rather than the sum of all your childhood nightmares it is more like a lullaby, so cosily familiar that it soothes away any tension, other than a nagging sense of boredom.

It feels more like a performance at a theme park than a narrative: a proficiently executed but uninvolving recreation of some old standards.

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This horror was made under the auspices of Guillermo Del Toro who produced and co wrote the script. I've written before at how mystified I am at his lofty status among critics and diehard fantasy and horror fans but even his most devoted fans aren't going to defend this.


Director: Troy Dixey

Starring: Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, Bailee Madison, Jack Thompson and Alan Dale

Length: 99 mins