Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark (2011)

Abandoned by her mother, Sally Hirst (Bailee Madison) is forced to move in with her architect father (Guy Pearce) and his interor designer girlfriend (Katie Holmes) as they take on a new joint project; a Gothic mansion in which they now reside. When a secret basement is discovered behind a false wall, Sally is drawn to an old fireplace, from which she can hear enigmatic whispers. Alienating herself from her father and deflecting Kate’s offers of friendship, Sally is left vulnerable to the creatures inhabiting the house’s crevices. After confronting one of the fairies in question, she must reach out to those close to her if she is to avoid the fate suffered by the building’s previous inhabitants in the creature’s never-ending pursuit of sustenance. And their snack of choice: child’s teeth.

With a title as imperative as Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark, Troy Nixey had his work cut out for him if he was to give good reason for his audience not to fear all that goes bump in the night. And with Guillermo Del Toro on board as producer, the moniker in question looked sure to prove an ironic instrument of false security. Not so, unfortunately, as Nixey does the impossible and neuters Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark of any fright, of any enchantment, and of any soul. Don’t worry Troy, unlike Katie Holmes we really weren’t all that afraid to begin with.

Don’t get me wrong, however: Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark is not a bad movie, it just isn’t particularly effective. Everything is in place – from the Gothic estate to the disbelieving parents – but, despite his best efforts, Nixey just can’t seem to wring the same fairy-tale horror from the material that Del Toro managed so memorably with Pan’s Labyrinth. From the moment the tooth-fairies (a pale imitation of the creatures featured in Hellboy II: The Golden Army) don’t claim their first victim, any semblance of apprehension is dashed as our heroes are pulled suddenly – and irreparably – from respectable danger.

For while Bailee Madison can cry rivers, Guy Pearce can ignore monsters and Katie Holmes can, well, deliver lines, their family unit just doesn’t ring true, particularly considering the truly arresting familial relationships which ground Del Toro’s other projects, whether he is attached as director (Pan’s Labyrinth) or producer (The Orphenage). Along with distinctly uncreepy grounds-keeper and an annoying tendency towards the easy jump-scare, Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark simply doesn’t have the same insidious magicality to it, robbing it of the one element that promised to set the film apart from the years other – disappointingly superior – offerings.

Attractive, competent and passably fantastical (the creatures are reliably well-realised), Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark sadly doesn’t live up to its practically palpable potential. Half-baked and failing to make the most of its 15 rating, the film aims for acceptable and hits the mark dead on. Holding more in common with The Spiderwick Chronicles than The Devil’s Backbone (the teeth-pulling prelude notwithstanding), this is one movie which could have done with a heavier edit and a better understanding of its target audience. Too shocking for kids; too tame for adults, Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark satisfies no-one.




About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark (2011)

  1. Pingback: October 2011 – Relax, I interviewed a pilot once! « popcornaddict

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