Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark
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At Blackwood Manor in Providence County, Rhode Island, renowned wildlife painter Lord Blackwood summons his housekeeper into the basement where he reluctantly kills her with a hammer and chisel. He removes her teeth, as well as his own, and offers them to mysterious creatures down an ash pit within an old fireplace; all of a sudden, the creatures demand the teeth of children. Blackwood begs for them to give back his kidnapped son, only to be dragged down the ash pit by the creatures.
In the present day, 8-year old Sally Hurst arrives in Rhode Island to live with her father Alex and his girlfriend Kim, both restoring Blackwood Manor to put it on the market for their client Mr. Jacoby. Sally is depressed due to her mother forcefully putting her in Alex's care and giving her copious amounts of Adderall. On the first night of her stay, the melodious tune from a carousel-styled nightlight awakens the creatures in the ash pit. The next day, Sally wanders the grounds and finds the hidden basement's skylight. One of the workmen restoring the house, Mr. Harris, warns her, Alex and Kim not to venture into the basement, although they do regardless. Sally takes interest in the sealed fireplace where she hears the creatures calling her name and follows the mysterious voices. "BE AFRAID" is written in runes above it.
Sally opens the fireplace to meet the creatures and finds one of the old housekeeper's teeth. The creatures quickly prove to be hostile, stealing Alex's razor and shredding Kim's clothes. Alex immediately blames Sally and finds a 19th-century silver coin in her possession, which she found under her pillow after the tooth disappeared. Alex and Kim head into town on a business trip and Sally sneaks to the basement to talk with the creatures, but Harris sends her away and tries to seal the fireplace. The creatures emerge and brutally wound him with his own tools and he is hospitalized. Sally's increasingly frightening encounters with the creatures prompt Alex to call a therapist to talk to Sally, who draws a sketch of one of the creatures that attacked her under her bedsheets.
Kim visits Harris in the hospital, who tells her to find the unpublished artwork of Lord Blackwood in the local library. The librarian reveals the artwork, one of which is of a creature whom he describes as being like tooth fairies, which every now and again turns a human into one of their own. Kim races home as Sally is attacked again by the creatures while having a bath, the lead creature being a transformed Lord Blackwood who proclaims the creatures will make Sally one of their own. Kim finds an undiscovered mural painted by Lord Blackwood in the basement, depicting his son being taken below ground by the creatures. Kim confronts Alex who is more interested in hosting a dinner for Mr. Jacoby and friends. However, he finally realizes what is happening when Sally is trapped in the library by the creatures, but she fends them off by using her camera flash to distract them.
Alex and Kim decide to flee the house with Sally, but both are ambushed by the creatures and knocked out, Sally tries to wake Kim up but also gets ambushed by the creatures and is knocked unconscious. When Sally wakes up, her feet have been tied up with rope, and the creatures are starting to drag her to the basement for her transformation. Kim awakens and goes to the basement to confront the creatures, cutting the rope around Sally's feet but only to get herself in the ropes and her leg broken by it as she struggles to get free. The creatures drag Kim into the fireplace, as a distraught Sally crushes the creature who used to be Lord Blackwood to death with a large flashlight. Alex arrives just as Kim disappears, and the father and daughter mourn their loss.
Some time later, both return to the abandoned mansion to leave a drawing of Kim there. After they leave a strong draft pulls the drawing into the creatures' lair; the entrance now bolted with metal. A transformed Kim is heard convincing the creatures to stay in hiding – for [people] will forget in time, and others will come – and they "have all the time in the world".
By Rene Rodriguez, The Miami Herald
2011 Top Critic Rotten Tomatoes
Guillermo del Toro was 9 years old when he saw the 1973 TV movie Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, an experience that would help shape his adult psyche as a master craftsman in the fantasy and horror genres. Del Toro co-wrote and produced his affectionate yet ineffectual remake, but he handed the directorial reins to first-timer Troy Nixey. The finished movie still bears heavy traces of del Toro’s presence, which only makes watching it more frustrating. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark often recalls del Toro’s Oscar-winning Pan’s Labyrinth, another story about a little girl who discovers not all monsters are make-believe. But this time, the material comes off as superficial kid’s stuff.
A big part of the problem comes in the casting. Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes — the kind of odd pairing of actors that comes only after your first and second choices have passed — are unconvincing and curiously unsympathetic as the architect Alex and his girlfriend. The unlikely couple is finishing an extensive restoration of the Blackwood Manor, a sprawling estate whose original owner disappeared.
Starting with the prologue, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark leaves no doubt there are creatures living in the basement of the mansion — creatures that have awakened with the arrival of Alex, Kim and his 9-year-old daughter Sally (Bailee Madison). The girl is the one who commands the monsters’ attention, since they feed on children’s teeth, and they are starving. Nixey and del Toro make you wait to get a good look at the tiny predators, but they are worthy of the build-up — demon-faced gnomes who may have come from another planet and are sensitive to bright lights.
Madison also fares better than her adult co-stars in making us care about what happens to her character. In the film’s best and most suspenseful sequence, one of the critters attacks Sally in bed as she’s hiding underneath her blankets. The scene is destined to haunt children’s nightmares, if they could see it: The bizarre R-rating on the film, which was granted more for overall impact and not specific adult content, will keep away audiences who would have appreciated the movie the most.
With Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, del Toro wanted all of us to feel like he did when he was 9 and seeing another incarnation of this story for the first time. But despite all the care that has been put into it, the film doesn’t transcend its dime-store horror roots. Neither scary nor original — at least to grown-ups — Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark ends up feeling like a personal obsession del Toro needed to get out of his system before he could move on.
Cast: Guy Pearce, Katie Holmes, Bailee Madison.
Director: Troy Nixey.
Screenwriters: Guillermo del Toro, Matthew Robbins.
Producers: Mark Johnson, Guillermo del Toro.
- Bailee Madison as Sally Hurst
- Katie Holmes as Kim
- Guy Pearce as Alex Hurst
- Jack Thompson as William Harris
- Alan Dale as Charles Jacoby
- Julia Blake as Mrs. Underhill
- Garry McDonald as Emerson Blackwood
- Nicholas Bell as Psychiatrist
- Trudy Hellier as Evelyn Jacoby
- James Mackay as Librarian
- Terry Kenwrick as Bill
- Emelia Burns as Caterer
- Eddie Ritchard as Housekeeper
- Libby Gott as Nurse
- Lance Drisdale as Policeman
- Carolyn Shakespeare-Allen as Airport Cart Driver
- Bruce Gleeson as Buggy Driver
- David Tocci as Workman
- Abbe Holmes as Joanne Hurst (Voice)
- Grant Piro, Todd Macdonald, Angus Smallwood, Dylan Young and Guillermo del Toro as The Creature Voices
House of Gothicism
Author: alexart-1 from United States
9 August 2011
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is exactly the kind of horror movie you want to hate. It's a remake, it involves a child in peril, and it contains some (and I say "some") very nasty violence. Just watch--you'll have trouble hating it.
Guillermo del Toro's new collaborative effort with first-time director Troy Nixey is, simply put, horror done right. There's a lot here that can be found in any horror movie that comes out now, but this one succeeds for relying on tone and setting rather than blood and guts. The acting from all three leads is surprisingly good, and Nixey shines as well behind the camera.
However, at the heart of the film is a ballsy story co-written by del Toro that really keeps the film stable. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is originally based on a 1973 British TV movie that has been hailed as one of the scariest movies ever made. The remake features a new main character: Sally, a child, played by Bailee Madison. Sally moves into a new Gothic mansion with her father (Guy Pearce) and a new stepmother (Katie Holmes). There, she discovers a ventilation system where she hears breathy voices calling to play with her. At first, the voices are friendly. Then, they're vicious and violent.
The violence of the movie is one of the reasons why this movie succeeds so nicely. The first scene is grisly and is, without a doubt, the reason why Don't Be Afraid of the Dark earned its R-rating rather than its intended PG-13. There isn't constant violence. In fact, there isn't even that much of it. Most of it is bloodless, but all of it is enough to make us squeamish and afraid.
Another area in which the movie excels in that respect is its design. The mansion that Nixey and del Toro chose is gorgeous. The intense lighting, which Nixey noted as "inspired by Rembrandt" in the Q&A following the film, is moody and adds to the heavy tone of the movie. The house is just creepy on its own, but it becomes creepier thanks to the creature design. Unlike what the trailer tells you, the creatures are pretty tiny. What creeped me out about them was the loud, shrill screeches they let out. It'll give you chills. Keep a keen ear and listen for del Toro, as he voices a few of the creatures.
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is a very fun and very creepy horror movie experience. Though not without its flaws, it has a strong story stabilized by good characters and a surprisingly dark ending, and it's got some good acting too. It's hard not to be absorbed in the mesmerizing light pools of the mansion, and it's even harder not to be entertained. As usual in del Toro films, darkness and unseen monsters reign, and as usual, it's pretty damn unnerving.
Not much need to be afraid of this remake
Author: inkleinedpuncture from United States
27 August 2011
Pros: beautiful scenery/sets, a few good jumps, and about 5-10 minutes of eerie atmosphere
Cons: not very scary, too much CGI'd gremlins, and a very predictable/slow plot
Conclusion: rent the original and skip this remake
The much anticipated, by me, remake of the 1973 made for TV movie of the same name left me feeling extremely disappointed. The plot was fairly simple. A young girl Sally (Bailee Madison) moves in with her father Alex (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes), into a house Alex and Kim are fixing up to sell. Soon upon arriving, adventurous Sally discovers the house has a basement and that the family is not alone. The basement's fireplace is inhabited by little CGI'd creatures that terrorize the family, especially Sally. The actors I felt all did an adequate job playing their parts, especially young Sally (Bailee Madison), who played a convincingly cynical little girl fed up with being 'sold' by her mother to live with her father. Overall the movie was very predictable and offered very few scary moments. The creatures from the original, people dressed in little goblin costumes, were sparingly showed. I think it was way more effective than the over-shown little gremlins in this movie, which looked to me like Chihuahuas that could speak. Save your money and skip this one!
In fact that's what my buddies did and instead spent their evening playing online slots at USA friendly websites. They had a blast winning and losing at not only their favorite slot games like RTG games: Aladdin’s Wishes, Caesar’s Empire, Sweet 16, Achilles, Double Ya Luck!, but they also played in a slots tournament. One of my buddies won $500. And here I sat watching this "horror" NOT with my girlfriend. Bummer. I would recommend watching the original or perhaps skipping them both and spend your evening playing online slots USA!
Inept, clichéd, poorly edited, huge unexplained plot holesAuthor: Stanley Strangelove from Portland, Oregon US
30 August 2011
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie is totally inept. It's one of those films where the characters behave so stupidly you can't believe it. Every scene is a horror film cliché. As for horror, there is none. Some of the scenes are so darkly lit you cannot tell what is going on and I have a feeling the cinematographer did not know what he was doing. As for the script, plot holes abound. Things happen and then are dropped. Characters pop in the movie and are never seen again. One scene will suffice. SPOILER: The grounds keeper is attacked by the creatures with screwdrivers and box cutters, he staggers up the stairs, falls face down on the floor in front of his wife and the little girl. When the husband comes home, the man's wife tells him that her husband has had an "accident". No one asks how he had an "accident" with a screwdriver stuck into his eye and a pair of scissors in his shoulder. I was really disappointed with this movie. I would say save your money.
Nothing To Be Afraid Of
Author: Joseph Brando from NJ, USA
21 September 2011
When I first heard about the plot of the "Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark" remake, I was disappointed that they decided to add the unnecessary element of a child to the story. Ironically, the portrayal of the daughter by Bailee Madison was one of the few highlights this movie had to offer. With all the creepy Gothic imagery, spiderwebs and shadows, this movie failed to create any of the suspense generated by the fairly moderate surroundings of the original. The CGI demons were absolutely ridiculous, and with complete certainty I can state that the raisin- faced-doll demons of the 40-year-old original TV movie were much creepier. Katie Holmes, although likable, must be one of the world's worst actresses, unable of conjuring up any emotion other then a perky turned up nose for all occasions. It is truly remarkable to see her constantly upstaged by the child actress in this film who forces you to believe everything she is feeling. I can only recommend this as a starter horror film for young children, or background TV while you pay your bills online - you won't miss anything.
A real missed opportunityAuthor: zoydbond from Lithuania
2 October 2011
Well. Where to start?
This is a film that starts badly, and save two relatively well executed scenes, gets worse. If you have seen the original seventies TV movie you will be sorely disappointed. What made the original frightening was the bareness of the plot, the ordinariness of the location and the bleakness of the ending. All of these elements have been removed. The story is over written, the location of overly ornate, and the ending, although quite nasty, is not as disturbing as it should have been. Add to this the frankly deplorable CGI and iffy direction. Well...
The kid is good though (that's where the 4 points comes from)
Verdict: Don't be afraid of avoiding don't be afraid of the dark
Attack of the CGI furry babies!
Author: Kristine (email@example.com) from Chicago, Illinois
12 January 2012
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw the trailer for Don't be afraid of the Dark a few months ago and really wanted to see it, I begged my boyfriend but as always he makes fun of the fact how much I love horror movies and didn't take me. So I had to wait for the rental and now I actually find myself thanking him that we didn't waste our money on this stupid movie. I love haunted house stories, I think since Paranormal Activity, everyone has had their eyes back on that genre of horror. So naturally comes a remake from the 70's comes along that was a haunting child horror story and let's make it the most ridicules looking thing you'll ever see in your life.
In Blackwood Manor eight-year old Sally Hurst arrives in Rhode Island to live with her father Alex and his girlfriend Kim, both restoring it to put it on the market for their client Mr. Jacoby. Sally is depressed due to her mother forcefully putting her in Alex's care. On the first night of her stay, Sally is given a carousel-styled nightlight, the melodious tune it plays awakening the creatures in the ash pit. The next day, Sally wanders the grounds and finds the hidden basement's skylight. However, one of the workman restoring the house, Mr. Harris, warns her, Alex and Kim not to venture into the basement, although they do regardless. Sally takes interest in the sealed fireplace where she hears the creatures calling her name, and follows the mysterious voices. They are now haunting her and will do anything to get her down into the dark.
Where to start with the plot holes in this movie? The creatures are supposedly scared of light yet can walk through a party where there is light everywhere and somehow they could make it under the table? Then how is it that the handy man is attacked by these creatures, getting stabbed all over the place, including the scissors in his shoulder and when the maid comes in he says he had an accident! How you explain that one? The tool box just exploded? Of course you have the cliché where the father doesn't believe his daughter despite numerous episodes of her screaming hysterically that there are things attacking her and then his girlfriend tells him to listen but that's not enough apparently.
They also show a lot of these little monsters that are just laughable, I'm sorry but they did not terrify me in the least little bit. You step on them, they're little bugs, no big deal. They don't have any super powers, they have to convince children to follow them with stupid little faces so naturally as an adult this is just stupid. They don't fly, don't hypnotize people, don't have super strength, so it's just lame. The ending didn't make any sense what so ever. The only thing I could give the film credit too is that the atmosphere was creepy. The sets were amazing and did give a good way to give little chills here and there. Also when Sally looks under her sheet to see what creeped under, that was a pretty frightening scene if it wasn't for the silly CGI effects. But it wasn't enough to save the movie sadly. I was really looking forward to this movie, but it was a total let down, it's not scary or enjoyable and honestly after I'm done writing this review I'll probably forget about this movie.
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