Critic Reviews



Based on 35 critic reviews provided by
This is a very good haunted house film. It milks our frustration deliciously.
If you flinch at "boo," you'll find plenty to jump at here. Just don't expect striking originality, or even genuinely memorable eeriness. Still, every time "Dark" starts to feel like a generic thriller, it's saved by the distinctive stamp of co-screenwriter/producer Guillermo del Toro.
Del Toro loves his creatures. Maybe he loves them too much: He always wants us to get a good look at them, and that's one of the things that saps the spookiness from this Don't Be Afraid of the Dark.
Eventually, too little is left to the imagination to do what it does best: fill in the gaps with visions far more frightening than anything a filmmaker could put onscreen.
With Del Toro's name in the credits, standard chills aren't enough. We want imagination to run riot.
All of this amounts to so much stylish nostalgia - not half as repulsive as the splatterific torture porn currently dominating the horror genre, and not half as cynical, either.
This insipid wannabe frightener features a checklist of derivative conventions.
Mr. Nixey is doing an Alfred Hitchcock homage within a movie lacking anything as subversive, or skilled, as Hitchcock.
Joltingly graphic and atmospheric (Nixey and his crew at least know how to set up a few good shocks), Don't Be Afraid of the Dark fails to involve us in any meaningful way with its characters.
The result is a scary movie that is genuinely scary in parts, although an adult can't help noticing this is set in the very worn and tattered territory of the haunted-house genre. Then when you get a glimpse of the CGI critters causing all the mayhem, the scares completely vanish.
Neither colorfully brutal nor especially fun. It's a plodding, derivative gothic potboiler: "The Shining" meets "Coraline," with a touch of "Gremlins" played (boringly) straight.
Really, truly, very scary ... At least until about 30 minutes in, when you start to be distracted by the lack of logic in the storytelling and the fact that the nasty little gremlins responsible for all the bumps in the night can be offed pretty easily.

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