Afraid of the Dark
knew that there was such a Hollywood goldmine in the film catalogue of Kim
First, last year The Coen Brothers resurrected her acknowledged masterpiece,
earning Hailee Steinfeld an Oscar nomination playing Darby’s role of Mattie
Ross in True Grit. (Though, granted, that original film also
co-starred some guy named John Wayne who may have leant some of the classic
status to the film.)
Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth) is sniffing around a
lesser-known corner of her CV, although Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
does have a serious cult following. Originally a made-for-TV movie from the
early 70s (back when made-for-TV was seriously edgier than the Lifetime
movies you see today), the movie was spooky and atmospheric and hasn’t aged
all that badly, despite its low budget and archaic special effects.
is it necessary for a film remake?
Perhaps not, however the new film is rather entertaining on its own merits.
Apparently the TV film was a childhood favorite of del Toro’s and he has
been working to get this screenplay made for over a decade (del Toro is
co-writer, producer and even contributes some voice-over work in the film,
but he did not direct the film, leaving that duty to graphic novel artist
new Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is actually surprisingly faithful to
the original, with one major difference – and a change for the better, I
believe. In the original, the haunted was a grown woman. Here it was
changed to an nine-year-old girl, which opens up the
realism of the possibility
significantly at the same time as majorly ramping up the danger quotient.
Otherwise, the film is bigger and more gothic, but a very similar story.
(Guy Pearce) and Kim (Katie Holmes) are a young professional couple who make
a living renovating and flipping old mansions. They have sunk all their
funds into an old decaying homestead – known as the Blackthorn Manor – which
belonged to a famous scientist before his mysterious disappearance, and that
of his son.
brings his nine-year-old daughter from a previous marriage,
Sally (Bailee Madison), to live with them as they
fix the home up. They quickly find a hidden basement and Sally is intrigued
by the old place. Then she starts hearing little murmuring voices calling
to her. Then she makes the mistake of opening a boarded up old fireplace
and things start to move around her. She eventually realizes that she is
surrounded by thousands of tiny creatures who want to destroy her.
Unfortunately, her dad is too involved in his spiraling business to listen.
And the girlfriend, who Sally shunned upon meeting, is having trouble
believing all the stories, too, though she does believe that Sally is scared
leads to a fight for the soul of the house as Sally (and eventually her
guardians) tries to escape the evil minions that
have set their sights on her.
These are tricky waters for a filmmaker to swim in – the little homunculi
(the demon creatures after Sally) could either be scary or could be a little
ridiculous looking, depending all on the art direction and story-telling
Also, the basic storyline has a bit of an outdated feel. In fact, the film
is sometimes willfully old-fashioned. For example, there is a long sequence
where the little girl keeps the creatures at bay by using the flash of a
Polaroid camera to startle them with its bright light. This leads the
audience to wonder: 1) who still uses Polaroid cameras? and 2) why didn’t
the flash bar she was using – which had just five bulbs – ever run out?
Still, it is quite obvious that del Toro loves the story and is passionate
about telling about it. Therefore, even if it is not necessarily the
filmmaker’s finest work on the nightmare idea of
children in danger to the supernatural – Pan’s Labyrinth is certainly
a better movie and The Orphanage also gives this film a run for its
money – there is a chilling and fascinating imaginary world on display
here. For old-school genre chills, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
mostly delivers the goods.
Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: August 26, 2011.