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Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

A 2011 movie directed by Troy Nixey.

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....Ever Wonder Why Children Are So Afraid of the Dark...?

  • Aug 30, 2011
I first watched the original TV movie “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” when I was a mere child, I have to admit, I’ve had some nightmares during that time because of that film. Then again, I was a small child then, and it may have made me much more….shall we say resilient to horror movies since the horror genre is my mother’s most loved genre. The original was very simple; yet so creepy, and with those three ghoulish tiny beings whispering “….spirits breed….” can just send chills down one’s spine. When I heard Guillermo Del Toro ( of The Devil’s Backbone, Cronos and Pan’s Labyrinth fame) was producing and co-writing this 2011 re-issue of the film that scared me as a child, I was ecstatic. I knew the original had several areas to improve upon and I hoped for Del Toro and director Troy Nixey could come out with a well-woven tale of supernatural horror. Perhaps I should’ve re-watched the original before I saw this film, but I do remember some of its key sequences quite vividly…

                   Katie Holmes in "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark."

                   Bailee Madison as Sally Hirst in "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark."

Many years ago in a huge manor, (not a spoiler) an old man called Emerson Blackwood (Gary MacDonald) seemed to perform medieval dentistry on his young maid to appease some goblin-like creatures called Homunculi. Fast-forward several years later and the film opens with a young girl named Sally (Bailee Madison) moving into the very same Blackwood manor with her father Alex (Guy Pearce) and his new wife named Kim (Katie Holmes), her father looking to have the historical manor put on the front page of a magazine. But when the ancient evil that Blackwood had faced many years ago resurfaces and desires Sally for some reason, the family must stay in the light to remain safe…

I have to admit the film gave me strong impressions of “The Orphanage” and “The Devil’s Backbone”; the atmosphere and the set designs all have that Del Toro signature and it worked on its advantage. I have to freely admit that the film is gorgeous and has exquisite cinematography that exudes the look of a classic haunted house film. The film uses several trickery with shadows and how the light itself can be so creepy even when it looked like a glimmer of safety. I know Nixey was the film’s director but the style and the feel of the film surely had the Del Toro influence.

                     Guy Pearce as Alex Hirst in "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark."

                     Jack Thompson as Harris and Bailee Madison as Sally Hirst in "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark."

                     Katie Holmes as Kim in "Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark."

The film’s premise does have some borrowed elements from other horror movies, but it doesn’t hurt it at all. The direction and the script was very focused in the telling of its tale, while it was simple, it manages to bring forth the key elements of terror into development. Your own house where danger lurks with no sense of comfort is a terrifying thing. As with Del Toro’s other movies, he uses the element of childhood fear and brings forth the myth of the tooth fairy into play as well as the dread of the unknown. I’m really not certain, but the creatures felt like they had influences from the first act of “Hellboy 2” as they had several qualities as to the hunger for bones and teeth. This had several Del Toro stamps all about it as it uses its elements of fantasy and symbolisms to generate its sense of suspense and dread. The original left this unexplained and it resulted with a much more solid threat of the unknown. Even the trio of creatures in the original was much more creepy; not to say that this remake’s hordes of creatures weren’t intense or scary, it’s just that the original had a more subtle execution for the creatures. I did notice several scenes that were obviously tributes to the original movie. 

                         Bailee Madison as Sally in "Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark."

                         Guy Pearce as Alex in "Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark."

The creature designs were pretty good; they were quick-moving and definitely looked like ghoulish fairies that looked very ancient. The music and the sound effects were truly engaging as the film made me feel the claustrophobia around the Sally and Kim characters. The film’s visual and aural manipulations were spot on. The film’s cast also proved quite competent; Katie Holmes was surprisingly competent as Kim and Guy Pearce fit the role of the skeptical father. Bailee Madison proved to be a capable young actress; I thought she was able to convince me of her fears and she truly felt helpless in many of the film’s sequences. I do have to admit that while some of the characters felt a little clichés, (I mean a skeptical father, a stepmother trying to prove herself and a child with issues) the direction was able to engage me nonetheless through the unraveling of its story.

“Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” may prove to be one of the more credible horror movies this past 3 years; amid the areas of bad remakes and reboots, I welcome a remake that allowed to expand upon the original film. While the original focused on the unknown, creepiness and unanswered questions, this re-issue feels more like a horror-fable-fairy tale. Del Toro and Nixey had come out with a highly entertaining horror feature; while not perfect, it is proof that a horror film doesn’t need to be, as long as the film manages to capitalize on its key elements and Del Toro and Nixey had done so quite well.

Recommended! [3 ½ Out of 5 Stars]

Poster art for "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark."  Poster art for "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark."


....Ever Wonder Why Children Are So Afraid of the Dark...? ....Ever Wonder Why Children Are So Afraid of the Dark...?

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February 20, 2012
A considerable review with great pictures too !
September 08, 2011
Very nice review dude!! I have a friend who is always talking about the original which I've yet to see. I like some of Del Toro so I'd be willing to give this a chance. So far, your review is the most positive one I've come across & that has actually made me want to see this one all the more. SOLD :D
September 08, 2011
Thanks, Brian! The original was just so creepy though I have to admit when I watch it now it feels a little dated. I love Del Toro, I even bought the director's cut of MIMIC; I like the way he blends horror and fantasy elements.
September 08, 2011
I may be a bit impartial to Pan's Labyrinth or Devil's Backbone as it deals with the innocence of children but...I will watch anything with his name on it. Oh, almost forgot The Orphanage.
September 08, 2011
Ohhhh, this sounds really cool! Gotta see about finding someone to see this with! :D
September 08, 2011
Thanks, Dev, might I suggest getting a sandwich at Michael's sourdough sandwiches in Marin afterwards? ;P dee-licious!!
September 07, 2011
Fabulous review!!!! Oh my, did I miss you LOL - I think I should have seen the original way back when, but I can't remember; I do wanna see this one though! thanks for sharing your words of wisdom.....
September 08, 2011
Thanks, Brenda. I missed ya too. I think you will enjoy this since you do have a love for horror. This was more like a creepy horror fantasy than intense horror though....I like it that way.
September 08, 2011
Oh yes, I love creepy much better and it's getting harder these days to find a movie that'll creep versus one that's just plain gross - I for one am getting tired of blood and gore - just give me the creeps!!
September 08, 2011
careful, creepy is different from 'creeps' LOL! O_O
September 08, 2011
LOL - I gotta watch how I phrase things!!
September 06, 2011
Liked this one as well man, checking out "Shark Night" 2morrow, now that I am finally back.
September 07, 2011
Thanks. I opted to skip SHARK NIGHT and see The Debt instead. I still need to take time to see FRIGHT NIGHT...
August 31, 2011
I was lucky in that I only saw about the last 1/3 of the original and didn't even know the title until a few years ago when I figured it out during a random conversation about something else on Amazon. I was thrilled that there was going to be a remake --especially when I found out that Del Toro was involved with the screenplay. I actually remembered very little of what I had seen. Fireplace, heating vents, little monsters--that was about it. I didn't even remember the ending until I saw the remake--I think I'd had to leave before it ended for some reason. The original costs a small fortune on Amazon and is only available on VHS. I'm far less excited (read=sickened) about seeing the remake of FRIGHT NIGHT which is one of my all time favorite horror comedies tomorrow. But I'm going to do it anyhow. Anyhow, DON'T BE AFRAID gets a 5 from me. Maybe time will temper that rating. It really feels like pure Del Toro no matter who directed it.
September 01, 2011
Me too. One thing I did remember was that Kim was the main protagonist in the original while Sally was the one in this re-issue. This did expand on the original's premise, though I have to admit that the original is arguably creepier. I do still want to see FRIGHT NIGHT, since it has gotten a lot of rave reviews. The way things are going, I may not be able to catch up with them all.
September 02, 2011
Yeah, they made just enough changes in the remake for it to be different and kept enough so that I remembered what little I had seen of the original--I like that in a remake. With very few exceptions though the original will always be better. I did like the fairytale feel that Del Toro brought to it. He even had a fairy ring in the garden. I'm holding off on FRIGHT NIGHT until Monday because the boys have a kung fu tournament this weekend and it will be cheaper to go on Monday anyhow.
August 31, 2011
I'm just baffled. It's a remake. It stars Katie Holmes. And it's good?!
August 31, 2011
the story was well-executed. Kudos to the direction and Del Toro.
August 31, 2011
How involved was he? I know he didn't do much of anything for "Splice".
August 31, 2011
He co-wrote the screenplay and the script. You could also tell his influences in the cinematography and atmosphere....
August 30, 2011 that I know what this is about, I almost want to see it. I do avoid horror movies, but usually the ones that involve hauntings or the ones with gratuitous violence and blood like the SAW movies. (When I was a kid, I accidentally watched part of The Amityville Horror - the original - and...well, that stuff scares the heck out of me even now.) Medieval dentistry huh? That sounds uncomfortable. ^^ Something like this I think I might be able to handle though. Thanks for clearing things up for me! :D
August 31, 2011
I like horror but truthfully, I like horror movies with a lot of emotional content, good story, and a well-laid out script. I liked SAW up till the third movie, then it just lost me. I do like ghost stories a lot better than the usual exploitive horror. I do recommend The Others and "The Orphanage" highly.
August 31, 2011
I saw The Others, and was really surprised and happy with the twist at the end. I think the most horror I'll ever be into though is my favorite hour long TV crime dramas. There have been a few times where some of the murder scenes in Criminal Minds have made me squirm, so most movies are out of the question for me. Heck, I even have nightmares after watching my favorite TV shows before bed! lol Creature films are a little different though since it's a safe bet they (the creatures) aren't real, at least ones like this. But then I think back to movies like Leprhechaun...which disturbed me beyond belief. So, I guess I'll have to get in one of my dark moods when I want to see something like this. I feel so hypcritcal now...
More Don't Be Afraid of the Dark reviews
review by . February 23, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****    What's one to expect from a haunted house horror movie produced by legendary Spanish native Guillermo Del Toro? If one has seen the great visual poet's directorial works, one might expect elements such as storytelling told through the eyes of a child, old-fashioned scare tactics, and talk of ghosts, ghouls, goblins, and monstrosities that live under the floorboards. If it is any of those things that you desire or anticipate; then by the time "Don't Be Afraid …
review by . May 09, 2014
posted in Movie Hype
         DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK      This film is a remake of a made for TV film from back in the day so naturally the comparisons are going to be made. I am not here for that especially since I have not seen the original in years. I do remember it of course but it would be unfair to compare since I could be forgetting things. So as for this one I will review it kinda like it is a stand alone, although we all know better.   …
Quick Tip by . May 09, 2014
posted in Movie Hype
This is a good film and one that I would recommend people check out. It may not be the best ever but it is still very good, the opening scene is one of my favorites and the ending is………….
review by . January 06, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
   “Conventional” called “Boring” and they both emailed the non-mathematical version of “Derivative” and they all decided to see Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.  Conventional said “Guillermo del Toro’s name is on it and I was totally undone by The Orphanage and Pan's Labyrinth” and Boring said “Bailee Madison’s in this and she was good in Bridge to Terabithia and stole the show in Brothers.”  The literary …
review by . August 22, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
'Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark' 'Two Jews On Film' Are Two Bagels Apart (Video)
   Take one young, unhappy girl who is sent to live with her busy, preoccupied father and his overly sweetgirlfriend, throw in a super big scary gothic mansion with a basement, that has a sealed off fireplace (are there any other kind) and a hundred (give or take) ancient, super ugly, tiny demon like creatures, badly in need of dental work, and you have the film 'Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark'.      This film is written by one of my favorite horror guys, Guillermo …
review by . August 27, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is an exercise in atmosphere and sheer creepiness. The plot is essentially a compendium of haunted house clichés, but I find that I don’t much care – not when the visuals and the mood are dictated by co-writer/co-producer Guillermo del Toro, whose fascination with insects, monsters, and dark places could not have been more appropriate for this story. Even in its routine state, the film is still …
Quick Tip by . August 26, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Guillermo Del Toro has given us a minor miracle; a remake of a horror movie that not only NEEDED to be remade (since not many people are familiar with it), but also one which succeeds in being a genuinely frightening film  about a little girl, a big, scary house with an ominous basement, and swarms of ugly little demonic monsters--what more could you ask for? This film is already on my Best of The Decade List.
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Movies, Demons, Guillermo Del Toro, Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, Bailee Madison, Horror Remake, Faires


Director: Troy Nixey
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Release Date: 26 August 2011 (USA)
MPAA Rating: R
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