Don’t be Afraid of the Dark
Guillermo del Toro gets instant interest from me. And that must be true of lots of other people, since his name is featured prominently in all the advertising for “Don’t be Afraid of the Dark,” so much so that some people think he directed it. He did not. He did co-write and produce it, and it certainly feels like one of his works.
“Don’t be Afraid of the Dark” is a horror movie based on a 1970’s made-for-TV movie that I’ve never seen. It’s got lots of del Toro basics–a young girl protagonist, mythical creatures, and mysterious architecture, so his fingerprints are very visible. Yet something is still missing.
I think it’s a certain cohesion. My biggest problem with the movie is, for lack of a better phrase, plot holes. I can overlook a few, but they seem to continually pop up. There are so many scenes where something happens and that something is totally ignored in the very next scene! It was baffling. I’m trying to think of an example that doesn’t give too much away. I think it’s safe to say that an entity is after the little girl. Someone who is supposed to protect her promptly wanders away looking for something, leaving the girl alone again! These “coincidences” happen all too often. It might simply be a result of being the director’s first feature length movie.
As for positive attributes, there is a lot to like about the movie. Rather amazingly, this movie is rated R despite no nudity, no profanity, and very little violence. It was rated R purely for being scary. The atmosphere is great–a classic New England mansion, exactly the kind you want to see in a “haunted house” type of movie. The evil entity is unique and malicious and creepy. The acting is pretty solid. I often have short patience for child actors, but the girl in the movie does pretty good work. And Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce are believable, even in secondary roles.
In the horror genre lately, suspense is often thrown out the window for gruesome imagery. This movie takes the exact opposite approach and is a welcome change of pace. I do think the plot holes are too big to overlook, but the creepy, supernatural tone is very good. It’s easy to compare this movie to “Pan’s Labyrinth,” but it’s nowhere near the quality of that film. It’s not really even the same genre. If you like the style of “Pan’s Labyrinth,” though, this one will probably suit you too.