Sunday, October 09, 2011

What Went Wrong with Don't Be Afraid of the Dark?: A Movie Review

*spoilers ahead.

Director: Troy Nixey.

Writers: Guillermo del Toro, Matthew Robbins (2011), and Nigel McKeand (1973 teleplay).

Cast: Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce and Bailee Madison.

The reason why Guillermo del Toro’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark does not elicit chills is that this film is focusing in on a different kind of terror: the destruction of the family unit. To show how these goblin-like tooth fairies from deep beneath the earth duck in and out of the shadows, and causing terror is not the problem.

Even in the film’s introduction, old man Emerson Blackwood reveals that he has to kill in the hopes that he will get back his son. He never did, and becomes the creatures’ next victim. Years later, the story shifts to introducing Sally (Bailee Madison), sent away by her mother to go live with her dad Alex (Guy Pearce). Presumably they are divorced, since the father has a co-worker, Kim (Katie Holmes) that he has affection for. Alex reveals that her mother has abandoned Sally, and Kim tries to be friends, if not be like a surrogate mother, to Sally. Initially, the feeling is not mutual.

Dad doesn’t have the time to mend any fences, either between him and his daughter, his new girlfriend or figure out what is wrong with his former wife. He is too preoccupied with the reconstruction of an old Blackwood mansion to notice the world around him. If he did, the building would have been torn apart to find the creatures’ lair had he took the time to notice the remains of the few goblins that Sally managed to destroy. There were at least two chances, but they get blatantly ignored. Instead, from this film’s introduction to the end, most of the story deals with the family’s drama.

When Kim pays more attention to Sally’s plight, she has no problems finding them when she breaks through the red tape to access the library’s special collections to discover what is going on. This particular moment went quickly but that is okay, otherwise it would have slowed the film down. And what she finds is enough for her to double her efforts.

When Del Toro is directing, he can provide some quality moments. His writing has never been in question. But with a director unfamiliar with horror, the otherworldly scares are hardly provided. Audiences hoping for some chills will not necessarily find it with a title like Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. Expectations will always exist for movie remakes and what this film offers is more like is a strip-tease of what is hiding in the walls. There is no exquisite climax. These goblins’ purpose is to create discourse between the young girl and the adults, and that only serves to affirm what the real plot is all about.

In the end, father and daughter do reunite. Fame and fortune is not all that important as Alex had hoped. Knowing that his daughter is safe is.

Overall: 7 out of 10.

The film's fan page:

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark on Facebook

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