Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark (2011) – Review
Hearing that Guillermo del Toro (the writer and director of Hellboy one and two, Pan’s Labyrinth and Blade 2 to name a few) had completed the screenplay for gothic horror remake Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark and had hired an unknown director, Troy Nixey (whom I hoped del Toro would take under his wing), I had extremely high hopes that this was going to be chilling and suspenseful horror with good acting, a great story, stunning set pieces and a fast pace; all the things that we have seen with his previous films. Unfortunately, my hopes were dashed. And then trampled on. And then kicked about a bit more.
Although I haven’t yet seen the original 1973 film, the plot of the remake does appear to loosely follow that of the original with some twenty first century updates. Sally (our heroine) is a young girl who is sent to live with her father and his new girlfriend at their new home; a gothic mansion that they are renovating. While exploring the gardens, Sally manages to stumble across the existence of a cellar that was unknown to her parents. When they open it up and unlock an old fireplace, they let out a group of mythical creatures that focus all their attention on Sally.
As with most horror films at the moment, Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark starts with (what is hoped to be a) shocking and horrifying scene to set the tone of the film. Unfortunately, it’s not and you just wonder what is going on. Once all the characters have been introduced (and you come to realise that the acting isn’t going to get better), the plot then jumps ahead to get the film moving. (This is very blatant and involves Sally stumbling across the existence of the cellar that was somehow unknown to her ‘professional’ house renovating father; but at least the plot is moving on.) When the cellar is opened, you hope the atmosphere can begin to build as you hear mysterious whisperings and see shadows move. Instead, you are treated to a site of multiple CGI fairies/goblins hell bent on creating mischief. This was the biggest let down for me as I was hoping that the ‘monster’ would be revealed at the end thereby giving you plenty of time to create something (infinitely more) scary in your mind. The plot then begins to race on until it culminates in a fairly predictable way.
Not everything in the film was a let-down however; the location and set for the film is stunning and the whole feel of the house seems overbearing. It is just a shame that the rest of the film doesn’t live up to the set’s standards. The mythology of fairies is also delved into and an interesting account of why children leave teeth under the pillow is touched upon but it is no more than a cursory look which is a shame. However, it does make you want to go out and investigate further which is always a good thing
Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark could have been an intensely creepy and horrifying film and you do feel slightly let down that it isn’t. I am sure there will be some who love the film but I fail to see how you could.
Watch the trailer here!