Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2010)
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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 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.
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
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.
1. OK so when Sally went into the basement to unscrew the RUSTED bolts from the furnace; this is just comedy because there is no way in hell she is able to unscrew those rusted bolts! Especially with an adjustable wrench! Im guessing she's anywhere between 60-70lbs, she's going to need a whole lot more than elbow grease to unscrew those two bolts!
2. Bath scene; how the hell did those gremlins get inside the medicine cabinet? Did they magically appear inside it? Sally is smart enough to use a wrench to unscrew some bolts, and yet she doesn't have the common sense to turn the damn lights back on? Plus, did the water magically disappear from the bath tub or did she imagine taking a bath the whole time? WTF!!!
3. Dinner; did the guy sitting next to Sally not notice that something was pulling Sally's napkin from under the table? When she ran out of the dining room, everyone had their full attention on her and yet NO ONE saw the little gremlin running a few feet away from her? And when she was in the library getting harassed by these little creatures, I guess it never occurred to her to turn the damn lights on?! And yet, she knows that they hate lights! Good god!
4. 24hr sun? WTF??!! OK did anyone who was involved in making this film not notice that in almost all or maybe all (don't remember) of the scenes where Sally was sleeping or when it was taking place at night that there was daylight shining in through the windows? Take for example the last scene, it was nighttime raining with thunderstorms. The little creatures killed the power and you see a shot of the entire house in full darkness and yet, when Kate fell down the stairs and when the little creatures were dragging Sally down the stairs, did all the freaking staff fell asleep while this scene was being filmed? Someone kill me!
5. Kim falling down the stairs! C'mon, she fell down a few flight of stairs and yet she couldn't move and passed out? Ridiculous, I've fallen 10ft from a tree with only grass to break my fall and I got up and walked away fine! Oh wait, that's not all, she was WALKING down the stairs, there is no way in hell that piece of wire is going to make a cut that deep nor should it have, and to make matters worse she was wearing a pair of jeans! The worst thing that could've happen was this, she tripped, fell, used her hands to break her fall, rolled down the stairs, got up! Wow!
6. Rushing to get out; OK so WTF??!! Both Kim and Alex knew Sally was in trouble, and what was the first thing you see them grab? LOL! No, not Sally but a pillow and blanket! Wow, the kid is in danger, yet the pillow and a blanket seems to be of more importance to them!
7. The little creatures were struggling to drag Sally (remember 60-70lbs) into the basement, yet when Kim cut Sally loose from the rope, did the rope magically wrap around Kim's injured leg? And did the little creatures somehow magically got super little creature strength and manage to break her leg while the rope was magically wrapped around it? Causing her to be dragged into the furnace? Oh wait, and here's what kills me, when Alex rushed down the flight of stairs into the furnace, he as a full view of what was taking place below, and yet, when he rushed below how the hell did he not notice that Kim was in the furnace? This move is totally worthless!
If you guys want to see some real horror movies check out Insidious, Lake Mungo, or Grave Encounters, any of those are a million times better than this piece of junk!
The movie had potential....the opening scene with the old man and the maid had me intrigued and I was looking forward to a good scare. It didn't follow through and I was left disappointed. Once they introduced the creatures the movie became laughable...literally. Every time they appeared on the screen most of the audience laughed. Their erratic behaviour and odd screaming reminded me too much of the 80's movie Gremlins....which I'm sure scared me back then....but I was also 7 at the time.
If you're looking for a movie that will chill you to the bone, do yourselves a favour and skip this one. I gave this a 2 out of 10 only because of the little girl's acting during the 'frightening' scenes. While the other actors fell way short, for the most part her fear seemed genuine.
However, that being said, the plot and its lack of logicality stop the film dead in its tracks. The stupidity of the film goes beyond the typical, "No, don't go in there!" that one typically expects in a horror film. The ridiculousness of the characters' actions makes this film frustrating and near impossible to appreciate.
I saw this film because I love "haunted house" films, I'm an old Katie Holmes fan from her Dawson's Creek Days, and I think Bailee Madison is adorable, and therefore, I'm awarding one point for each redeeming quality in the movie - 1) awesome scenery, 2) Katie Holmes, and 3) Bailee Madison.
The handyman wanders around looking terrified but won't say a word. The little girl is constantly looking down dark holes and under her bed when she hears scary noises. The dad doesn't believe anything she says for most of the movie. Even after he does believe what she says, he still leaves her alone in bed while he gets ready to flee from the evil (fill-in-the-blanks).
This film reminds me of early Dracula movies, where the fair maiden was always warned not to remove her crucifix because evil is afoot in the countryside. In the next scene, she's sitting at her dressing table brushing her hair, and she takes off the crucifix and drapes it on the mirror. And then -- shock! -- a vampire comes in the window.
Loved the Gothic cinematography, but the camera work and film editing gave too much away.
Sigh . . . another one with potential bites the dust.
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...
I was excited to check the movie: the trailer looked really freaky and the cast spot on and knowing that Guillermo del Toro from Pan's Labyrinth was almost like xmas day !
HOWEVER... All that was a big fat disappointment: long, boring (even when there's ¨action¨), full of incoherences and plot holes.
- It was just one plot hole after the other (listed beautifully by another user): there never is any police investigation even if there is obviously a case of: intrusion/murder/kidnapping. When katie's character goes missing (=she sacrifices herself to save the little girl) by letting the goblins take her in their lair, it seems like no one cares as there is no police investigation to organize an excavation in the hole to find out if she's dead and where are her remains. when the boyfriend and his daughter go back to the house, they don't even look that sad but more like "better you than me/my daughter b*tch": maybe they were happy that the movie was finally over...
- The little girl was getting quite annoying... the actress was actually okay... but i wasn't feeling much sympathy for her character. katie should have just let those little creatures take the snotty girl away.
- The little creepy creatures: i thought the cgi was actually alright. But for 1 hour were obsessing about taking the little girl and apparently had a "Children-Only" policy, but in the end settle for the adult: why???! the creatures should have just taken over the whole household with the adults and all. would have been easypeasy and this movie would have been over in no time.
Basically it was like there was no point to any of it. Certainly no point in watching.
First thing I should tell you is that the movie isn't that scary. What the movie focuses on instead is telling a good story that relies heavily on atmosphere. One of the best parts of the film is the mansion that they life in. What's interesting is how the mansion is treated almost like a character in that with all the construction that the mansion is undertaking, it changes throughout the movie. Starting from as an old building that holds secrets to a completely renovated mansion that is more than what it seems. From a comfy lit room to a dim lit nightmare, the mansion becomes the perfect set piece. I must give credit to the director for the attention to detail in every set and the eerie coldness that the movie makes you feel.
The acting is good but nothing to write home about. Katie Holmes does a fine job playing Kim, the interior decorator and love interest. Guy Pearce does an amazing job playing a father you really want to strangle at the end of the movie and Bailee Madison does a good job playing Sally. The little creatures, which are all CG done look fantastic in the film, which is something expected when I see the name Guillermo Del Toro attached to the film.
While everything sounds good and great and the movie does a great job at being a good classic horror movie with the usual or unusual twist ending, I still have a problem with the movie that is more an issue with the genre. That problem I have stems from the utter stupidity from the characters in the film. If some little monsters try and attack you or someone you know why wouldn't you do everything in your power to stay away from the house or at the very least be with someone at all times? Why is it that once everything is going to hell that all the characters decide to split up instead of forming a party? I mean seriously, it just pains me to believe that all these characters could be so very stupid. You know the little monsters are there but you still decide it would be a great idea to take a shower at night? Seriously?
OK, I think my little rant is done. Overall I enjoyed the film even though I am not a big fan of horror movies and I think that if you want to see a horror film is that more creepy than scary than Don't Be Afraid of the Dark will satisfy your needs.
Written by Steve Cienfuegos for MovieFloss.com
Really there is nothing else to tell, after the initial discovery of the bad ass little fairies there is nothing else worth watching-Yea in the end Katie meets the same fate as the famous Artist but that's it...And Guy Pierce really needs a sandwich.
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.....
This is one of those films that has a famous Autuers name on some producing credit to give the movie that little bit more gravitas.
Del Toro stated that he wanted to make this as it was his favourite TV mini series of the seventies. And good grief is the film bad.
Like the re-make of 'The Haunting' the house is beautiful and so are the sets, but you come to see a horror movie to be scared, or be put under a little tension, not to see anorexic gremlins bully a little girl.
Pearce and Holmes have zero chemistry and the only reason this hasn't got one star is because, to my knowledge the first time that Mike and Jim Robinson from hit Aussie soap 'Neighbours' have been in the same room on the big screen.
otherwise, it's dull, don't let the Del Toro credit fool you.
I'm pretty sure the writers forgot this script was due until 12 hours before the deadline..."wait...the script's due tomorrow?!!?"
Let me get this straight. Your house's caretaker has an "accident" in which he stabs himself in the back of the knee with a screwdriver, cuts his hand with a razor, gouges his own eye out and then stumbles up the stairs with a set of scissors stabbed into his shoulder...makes sense. That must have been some dynamite police work. I especially liked how he's laying on the floor bleeding and the nanny does nothing. Get the dude a towel, water, some Robitussin...something.
The award for worst parents in history goes to Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes. What I learned from this movie is that if your child has a traumatic experience, the first thing you should do is immediately put them to bed, in the dark, by themselves and let them be alone with their thoughts. Guy Pearce is a total douche in this movie. His girlfriend's clothes are found slashed by a razor and his caretaker has just suffered a brutal, violent attack in the basement. His little daughter is hysterical and has been attacked twice, Guy Pearce's solution...let's throw a party!! He was a real bad ass too when Katie Holmes got sucked down the hole in the basement. Didn't even try to get her back...nice.
CGI rat dwarfs aren't scary either.
I would rather shut my manhood in a car door than see this movie again.
There was absolutely no reason to remake the downright terrifying 1973 TV movie--but that never stopped Hollywood! In the original it was a woman who was terrorized--here it's a young girl. The film is not graphic (how it got the R rating is beyond me) but it has its moments. The attack on Harris (Jack Thompson) is pretty bloody and cool and when Sally finds something under her bed sheets it's downright terrifying...but there are too few moments in this film. It moves slowly and is pretty dull. Pearce (who can be great) appears drugged out and Holmes is just TERRIBLE in her role. Very blank and annoying. Madison easily outacts them in a very compelling performance. It says a lot about any movie where the kid gives the best performance. The monsters themselves are gremlin-like creatures and are kind of cool...but no reason is given for their interest in killing people.
All in all this is a generic and quite boring horror film. Skip it. I give it a 2.
But of course now we have much more advanced ways of creating special effects monsters. The problem though with this film is enough time isn't spent on the actors struggling with what their daughter is telling them. Mom see's some old paintings done by someone who lived in the house and opens her eyes wide, dad doesn't want to listen to his daughter or girlfriend and that's about as much reaction we get from the adults.
It needed more time spent on the daughter trying desperately to tell the adults what she was seeing and watching the adults try to grapple with it. Is our daughter insane? Is she hallucinating? Did she really see something? Let's check it out. None of this happens until the end.
The film isn't bad. The photography is good but the acting isn't there for me. If my kid told me they saw something I'd grab a flashlight and start poking and prodding. I mean, at least it could have been some wild animal in the house. This is lacking here and it does make a difference with this remake, in a film like this.
Could have been better.
Tiny little half pint sized sprites struggling to hold up nail clippers on the attack! it is probably the only 'haunted house' film i've seen where i'd think, i'll buy it anyway, and set some mouse traps down in the basement, problem solved.
I've not seen the original of this film, and i'm sure this film has ruined the original series, and will try to watch with an open mind. This film tho, very disappointing, considering the trailers looked so promising.
Now, to review the movie real quick, the story line had great potential. The acting CGI and soundtrack were all offensive to the sane, sober movie goer. The "monsters" are not fit to be in a Disney fairytale production. They looked like a conception of a freshman in computer-design major. The first time the creatures were revealed, the whole movie house broke out in laughter, THAT bad.
The last thing that I have to mention, those IMDb vote results are rigged. NOT by IMDb itself, obviously. A breakdown of the votes show me 400+ votes were 10. A number that no other "scary movie" has ever gotten. Scary movies are entertaining but they are not 10. But, hey, to each his own. A further breakdown reveals that 81 US users and 244 non-US users gave it 10. Hmmmm... A movie produced in the US, set in the US and is as American as a cheeseburger and yet the bulk majority of the people who thought it PERFECT are non US residents... Sounds too fishy. Why another reviewer here subscribes to IMDb and sings all glory to this movie while other "disputably" good movies were all rated one by that same user tells me there is money involved.
Bottom line, the movie is a complete waste of time and money. This movie will go down to the film history as The Fiasco of Guy Pearce, Katie Holmes and Mr del Toror.
2 out of 10 for the fact that someone actually bothered and made this movie at all.
Sally rejects Kim and feels lonely in the mansion and while walking on the real estate, she finds that the manor has a hidden basement. Alex's employee William Harris (Jack Thompson), who is a descendant of Blackwood, warns Sally to never go to the basement but the girl overhears voices in the ash pit calling her. However Sally brings a wrench and removes the bolts of the ash pit cover. Sooner Sally finds that evil creatures that fear the light have escaped from the underground through the ash pit and are threatening her. However, Alex and Kim believe that it is only her imagination.
"Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" is a remake of a 1973 film that I have never seen. The cinematography and the performance of the girl Bailee Madison are great. Unfortunately the lame screenplay has many plot holes and, for example, the disappearance of Kim and the weird events that the guests have witnessed have no consequence in the end of the story.
The DVD has interviews and behind stage footages and it is visible the interference of Guillermo del Toro in the direction. Unfortunately his participation is not enough to save this film. My vote is five.
Title (Brazil): "Não Tenha Medo do Escuro" ("Don't Be Afraid of the Dark")