Running Time: 99 minutes
US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15
Country: Australia, Mexico, United States
As a somewhat remake of a popular Seventies horror film and having been penned by master of real-life frights Guillermo del Toro, the smart money was on Don’t be Afraid of the Dark to be the dark horse of 2011. Slightly, disappointingly, we are given merely an average horror movie. Not terrible but certainly not brilliant – it’s like the diet coke or magnolia paint of scare flicks.
The story is about Alex (Madison), an eight year old girl suffering from some sort of mental fragility, who gets shipped off to live with her architect Dad (Pearce) and his interior decorator girlfriend Kim (Holmes) in a home once inhabited by a famous painter who went mysteriously missing. As the family redecorate their creepy new home, the kid goes a little weird and starts seeing things but, naturally, as this is a horror film, people don’t believe her until things begin to get very real.
As with many horror films, DBAOTD is much scarier before we see the subject of their chills but this tacky reveal-all actually comes as a welcome relief as the frustration mounts from early on as the neglectful parents constantly rebuff the child’s attempts to tell them what’s up. The story that comes out is equally ridiculous and merely makes it laughable rather than scary. The acting is generally pretty awful leaving the young Baillee Madison to far out-act Katie Holmes and the normally excellent Guy Pearce.
However, the bottom line is that Troy Nixey’s debut feature is actually pretty scary. The creepy mood lighting is just right, the brooding soundtrack fits perfectly and although nothing is particularly original, enough has been done as well asthose that have gone before. Overall, it’s a fairly decent one-watch that won’t scare or charm the pants off you but is not the worst way to spend 100 minutes of your life.
It's Got: A decent atmosphere thanks to creepy lighting and score.
It Needs: Better acting (except Baillee Madison), less plot and monster revelation
I’m afraid you probably won’t be afraid of Don’t be Afraid of the Dark, A very middle of the road horror film that’s not great but okay for a bit of mindless entertainment.