A young girl is sent to live with her estranged father and his girlfriend at their new home. The father, Alex has plans to spruce up the home with the help of his interior decorator girlfriend, Kim. The previous owner of the home was a famous painter who mysteriously disappeared. Alex's daughter, Sally, soon discovers the cause of the painter's disappearance. Written by
The idea behind DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK has potential. It's a remake of one of those classic 1970s TV horrors with Guillermo del Toro as one of the scriptwriters, no less. It starts off with potential, featuring a leading role from Guy Pearce (always a favourite) and some great set design and dressing in the form of a huge, crumbling old mansion complete with hidden rooms and passageways.
And slowly, bit by bit, the potential ebbs away, leaving this a soulless and artificial experience. It ends up being overexposed and under-written, a jumble of pointless scare sequences and endless CGI nonsense as the inhabitants of the household are repeatedly put at the mercy of some unwelcome critters. In some ways it's like a modern day GREMLINS, and it has a very childish feel to it despite the adult rating. There are parallels to other del Toro fare like PAN'S LABYRINTH but this is nowhere near that kind of calibre. The only thing it makes me want to do is track down the original.
The film I most likened it to was, in fact, an obscure early '90s B-movie called LITTLE DEVILS: THE BIRTH, which was much better in terms of pure, unashamed fun - the effects were better too. DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK is just lazy, with cheesy CGI and only one good scare all the way through. Finally, the cast is underwhelming: Pearce is a sleepwalker, Katie Holmes embarrassed, and Bailee Madison once of the most irritating child actors I've seen in a while. Still, at least Pearce got to team up with NEIGHBOURS' Alan Dale (aka Jim Robinson) for a couple of scenes...
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