These days so many horror movies claiming to be ‘scary’ are anything but. Thinking a bit of shadow and creaky noises will reign in the dollars Producers seem to believe minimal effort will conjure huge returns. Sometimes this happens although films such as Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark make an effort in spooking viewers. Co-written by fantasy maestro Guillermo del Toro, it delves into people’s fear of the dark unknown to variable effect.
Moving into an old mansion, young Sally (Bailee Madison), her father Alex (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes) look forward to settling in. While exploring they discover a hidden basement with a rather strange fireplace. Within it lurks a gaggle of goblins conspiring to steal Sally away from her sunny reality. Fighting the supernatural horde at every turn, the trio grapple with a deadly curse their new abode has long kept secret.
Based on a 1973 TV movie, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark betrays its origins. Whilst having its moments of tension with some fine rendering of the sinister goblins, overall events never really amount to much. Part of the problem is the concept of the thieving monsters isn’t utilised that well with the familial dramas of the trio taking precedent. This becomes tiresome with the precocious young heroine gradually grating on the nerves.
Perhaps one expected more from del Toro –even if he didn’t direct this. That honour goes to Troy Nixey who goes through the motions with various horror clichés without much enthusiasm. Even the cast seem distracted – as if they weren’t sure how to play their roles. Which is a great shame as the potential is there for a frightening tale. Unfortunately the film-makers seem to have lacked the courage of their convictions by watering down the horror of the piece in favour of a movie with broader appeal.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is yet another disappointing addition to the recent spate of horror films. Occasionally firing, these sparks are all too infrequent with this insipid remake failing to live up to the promise of its foreboding title.
Movie Review Rating 4 / 10
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at current movie releases in Australia.