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Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark



Released: 7th October 2011 (UK)

Director: Troy Nixey

Stars: Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, Bailee Madison

Certificate: 15

Reviewer: Ben Harris

With Guillermo del Toro as producer you would have thought ‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark’ would be a sterling example of horror filmmaking. Sadly it’s not the case, although well crafted, this film becomes victim to a mediocre script and amateur CGI.

Sally (Bailee Madison) is sent to live with her father, Alex (Guy Pearce), and his new girlfriend, Kim (Katie Holmes), who have recently brought a house to renovate. Unknown to them the house has a dark past and its Sally who discovers tiny creatures held up in the basement and they are very hungry to say the least.

A stale opening clarifies what is looming in the basement of this spooky and clichéd house. Instead of building up the tension and making the unwanted presence hidden the film does the opposite. We are shown where these creatures “live”, what they eat and get an idea of what they look like. Of course there is more to find out but the mysterious and unsettling atmosphere is quickly diminished. We all know its far more disturbing not knowing what’s making the eerie whispers.

‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark’ does, however, benefit from good cinematography and Troy Nixey’s direction. Nixey does try to build up much needed tension but these pathetic creatures are revealed in full form too quickly and they are far from scary.

It’s not all about a little girl being terrorised by gremlin wannabes but also her developing a bond with her father’s girlfriend. Eventually they become close as events unfold and obviously Kim becomes concerned about Sally’s safety, unlike her father who thinks she is just misbehaving. It then becomes the usual case of “Why don’t you believe me?”. Before you know it there is a full-blown war with these miniature creatures and it’s at this time ‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark’ loses its credibility.

Surprisingly Bailee Madison is very convincing as the traumatised young girl but her superiors Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes are awkward and forced. Holmes’ role seemed to be slightly demanding for her, as she has to restrain her corner smile for a long period of time.

‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark’ is a huge disappointment considering Guillermo del Toro’s involvement and ends up being cliché and more comical than scary.


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