Friday, January 13, 2012

Don't be Afraid of the Dark

By Sati. Friday, January 13, 2012 , , , , , , , ,
37/100 (99 min, 2010)
Plot: A young girl sent to live with her father and his new girlfriend discovers creatures in her new home who want to claim her as one of their own.
Director: Troy Nixey
Writers: Guillermo del Toro (screenplay), Matthew Robbins (screenplay)
Stars: Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce and Bailee Madison

I have a strange feeling the ghost of Lovecraft is following me. I go on trivia site for this one and it says "Appropriately set in Providence, RI as that was the home of H.P. Lovecraft who wrote the story "The Rats in the Walls" which apparently inspired this film.". I start watching "Masters of Horror" and the second episode is based on his story. I read a little about Alien design by Giger and guess what? He had an artwork published in...book called "Necronomicon". That's all on the side note but I assure you - this is way more scary than the film I'm reviewing here.

It's 2012. You don't expect cheesy CGI anymore. But the CGI in "Don't be Afraid of the Dark" is so bad and laughable it actually manages to ruin the movie. Things aren't perfect before we actually see the monsters as Pearce, Holmes and Madison are just horribly miscast as ensemble and have no chemistry together, despite efforts on Holmes's part. But there is climate, suspense, potential for a good movie here. And then when we finally see what it is that endangers protagonists...it all goes to hell.
Things get even worse when the back story of the creatures is revealed - this must be the first time in a very long time when upon hearing about something I simply imagined it happening and laughed for minutes - the story incorporates Tooth Fairy legend and one character actually says that the creatures signed a treaty...with the Pope in Vatican to get teeth in exchange for silver. Can you imagine these things walking into Vatican? I can and it's hilarious.

The worst thing is that with all of that it really could be a good horror movie - there is plenty of suspenseful scenes here, the setting is from a dream - creepy mansion, dark garden - the scenes where little girl wanders around there reminded me of "Secret Garden", the fact the lights keep going off, scary basement...if only they didn't showed terribly made creatures...it's been so many years since "Rosemary's Baby" and people are still freaked out about the baby because we never saw it and what we imagine is almost always worse than reality. If only they showed shadows, characters screaming and never revealed the monsters it would be very scary.
Del Toro incorporated a lot from "Orphanage" and "Pan's Labyrinth" here - some plot devices and even the resolutions to the situations o many characters are exactly the same. It's not necessarily the bad thing, he has a certain style and some key elements that appear in all of his stories. Yet again, the protagonist is a distressed child played with a lot of conviction by Bailee Madison, whom you may remember from "Brothers". She is quite good, so is Katie Holmes as girl's father's new girlfriend who tries to befriend Sally and later on is the only person that believes her. Guy Pearce is on such a downward spiral - there was "Memento" and then for a decade, year by year, he is becoming more and more expandable and replaceable.

There are some ingenious moments here - the scene where Sally is frantically snapping pictures in the study, the scene in the bathroom or the moment seen in trailer, where Sally is looking under covers. Unfortunately creatures appearance and the fact they actually talk and the way they talk ruins everything. The ending is also awful - stupid twist thrown right in the end that actually devoid the film of the strongest emotional bond it created between two characters in the story.
"Don't be afraid of the dark" could be a good movie, with a bit different cast - especially by replacing wooden Pearce and obviously - either improving CGI or getting rid of the idea of showing the creatures all together. It works as a horror movie at times, as drama at others, but for most of the time - it just comes off as a comedy. Unintentional comedy. The story, while frightening on paper is really nothing to be afraid of on screen.

5 comments:

  1. Wow, the tooth fair legend? Really? Doesn't sound like one of Del Toro's best efforts. Good review :)

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  2. LOL! yeah, this was really bad. and i thought the suspense was minimal. very shyalaman like to me

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  3. Hey!

    Nice site you have here. Though, I have to wonder ... what comprises the out of "100" rating? Just a tad confused

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    1. It's a normal rating like 10/10 - some movies are 9/10 and 9/10 but for me there is a great difference between 91/100 and 95/100. I found 1-10 rating to be too simple for my taste. Below 50/10 the movie is bad, above to 75 it's all right, above 76/100 it's very good and great.

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  4. I was also severly disapointed in this movie. Not what I was expecting at all. Could have been alot better...should have been alot better.

    Oh and by the way I really like the way you did your site. It looks very nice.

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