When I found out that Guillermo del Toro was producing a horror film, I actually jumped for joy. Also that it was going to be rated R? Finally, a real horror movie!
‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark’, starring Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce and Bailee Madison, wasn’t something I was expecting. I knew it was based off of an old made for TV movie by the same name, but having Guillermo del Toro’s name tied to it made me still hope for the best. I thought since he was the director of ‘Hellboy’ and ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’, this can’t be wrong!
Unfortunately, I was wrong.
The story begins gruesomely with an old man ripping out his teeth and his maid’s teeth, to give as sacrifice to get his little boy back from the vents below. The voices reject his offering, and seem to eat him instead. This was the most interesting point of the film and where things start to fall flat. We are brought to present day, where a mother gives up her young daughter Sally (Bailee Madison) to Sally’s father Alex (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes). Sally feels unwanted and unloved. She is soon greeted by the voices in the vents who say her parents don’t love her and they want to be her friend. (This is where we are greeted with the science fiction elements of the movie) She describes them as “fairies”. The “fairies” turn out to be gnome/fairy/rat/monkey looking things…they are just known as Creatures. I found Sally herself to be creepier then the Creatures themselves, with her sly smile and attitude.
As I said before, the story pretty much flatlines once Sally is introduced. It is a very by the book horror movie that involves children. I understand that when he was 9 years old, Del Toro was absolutely terrified of this movie. The original was based on a couple named Sally and Alex moving into a mansion together, Sally being a known former mental patient. There are hints that child Sally has a history of mental illness, you see her taking Adderall in the beginning of the film, but that is used to treat hyperactivity in children and narcolepsy, not mental illness. Just as Guillermo del Toro outgrew his fear of the Tooth Fairy, we seemed to outgrow his horror movie as it progressed.
The film had a lot of plot holes, a lot of in your face scenes and not a lot of backbone. A horror film? Not quite. Del Toro had a strong idea without strong execution. The opening sequence was enough to suck you in, but with the weak story it failed to hold up the film on its own. I give it a D, because it wasn’t a complete failure of a film, but it wasn’t the horror film that it could have been.
Did you see “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”? Did it scare you, or were you disappointed? What did you think of the Creatures? Because I didn’t want to put in too many spoilers (what I talk about happens within the first 10 minutes of the film), what did you think of the ending?