Starring Guy Pearce, Katie Holmes and Bailee Madison
Directed by Troy Nixey
As the march through the weeks new movie releases continues here in our city of Toronto it’s time to take a look at one of the higher profile films hitting our local cinema’s. From one of modern cinema’s fright masters Guillermo del Toro we get a nostalgic look at the genre’s past that may have played a lot better when we were kids. As we were always told by our parents; “Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark”.
“Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark” introduces us to Sally Hurst (Madison). She is a lonely and withdrawn child who has just arrived in Rhode Island to live with her father Alex (Pearce) and his new girlfriend Kim (Holmes) at the 19th-century mansion they are restoring. While exploring the sprawling estate, the young girl discovers a hidden basement, undisturbed since the strange disappearance of the mansion’s builder a century ago. When Sally unwittingly lets loose a race of ancient, dark-dwelling creatures that conspire to drag her down into the mysterious house’s bottomless depths, she must convince Alex and Kim that it’s not a fantasy, before the evil lurking in the dark consumes them all.
Loosely inspired by the 70’s TV movie of the same name, executive producer and co-screenwriter Guillermo del Toro has drafted first time feature helmer Troy Nixey into the role of director. However, this film ultimately suffers from more than a few flaws. Looking at this through a child’s eyes, this is certainly a story rife with potential for some PG rated thrills, however 10 year olds are much more savvy now than they were back when Del Toro was that age. Parts of the script clunk like a dead balloon, jumping through situations with no real rhyme or reason with characters motivations changing at the whim of a film reel and del Toro who is notorious for showing off his creatures revels the little nasties far too soon and it kills what little legitimate suspense that the story managed to generate. The movie looked great; photography, creatures and all but it all felt hollow and it missed its intended mark.
None of the cast had any real chemistry together, Pearce & Holmes as a couple felt unnatural and forced. Bailee Madison as our young heroine was cowering in the corner one minute, fighting off murderous pixies the next, then back to cowering in the corner from scene to scene. This interaction may work for 9-10 year olds, but for the adult crowd this film has been marketed towards, the length that these characters stay in the obviously ‘bad place’ boarders on ridiculous.
“Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark” looks great but it’s ultimately hollow as director Nixey’s ability to shift between fantasy and horror isn’t quite as good as the guy whose name is at the top of the poster.
2 out of 5 stars. You can read our own Kristal Cooper’s take on this film right here.
“Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark” is playing at theatres across Toronto, click here for more details.
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