Oct 10, 2011

[Movies] Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2011)

Dont Be Afraid of the Dark (2011)I do my best to deal with my almost instinctive aversion to horror movies. This typically consists of trying to watch more of these sorts of movies, especially when my partner highly recommends the film. Of course the end results aren't always too great, so for the most part I try to watch such movies only at home.

But every now and then we still end up catching a movie of this nature in the theaters, especially when my partner is really excited about it.

That was the case with this one given the involvement of Guillermo Del Toro, who admittedly has done some phenomenal things with movies. I really enjoyed the Hellboy movies and I loved Pan's Labyrinth (despite how it gave me the willies in some parts).

But this movie reminded me that perhaps his skills are more related to the his ability as a director and not solely as a writer. While this movie did have a lot of potential given the original material (yes, apparently it's a remake), but then the directorial vision that shapes the movie still has a larger role in things.

So I had more reasons not to like this movie beyond the fact that it's a horror movie.

Director Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth,...Image via WikipediaDon't Be Afraid of the Dark is a 2011 horror movie based on a 1973 TV ABC movie of the same name. It was written by Guillermo Del Toro and Matthew Robbins as directed by comic book artist Troy Nixey.

We start some time in the past in Blackwood Manor in Providence County in Rhode Island. A renowned painter by the name of Lord Blackwood (hence the name of the manor) summons his housekeeper down to the basement, but ends up killing her. What is strangest is that he kills her for her teeth, which he then offers to unseen creatures living deep within the ash pit of the old home. But they reject his offering in exchange for his kidnapped son and ends up getting dragged down into the depths as well.

In the present day, the couple of Alex Hirst (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes) work on restoring the old manor and are joined by Alex's daughter Sally (Bailee Madison). The 8 year old girl is clearly having trouble dealing with the separation of her parents and is already on Ritalin to cope with her anxiety. But soon she starts to hear voices in the depths and the secret residents of the house start to call out to her, without the knowledge of her parents (of course).

To be fair, Sally is perhaps the bravest little girl I've seen in a while, in terms of movie characters. Sure, Ofelia from Pan's Labyrinth was pretty brave too, but a lot of the things things that Sally goes through are pretty extreme (to the point of being a bit weird). Of course this is because she's the translation of the adult protagonist  in the original movie made into a child, so some of the stuff is a little off.

But with the child as the protagonist, it means the adults need to ask like extra idiots. Guy Pearce seems determined to prove to everyone that he still works out with his few memorable shirtless scenes and Katie Holmes gets to play the world's most inconsistent girlfriend. Even after she starts to believe in the girl's stories about creatures in the house, she still doesn't act and do anything to really save them all.

There were a lot of moments in the movie that felt awkward in terms of pacing or how the scenes were put together, which is ultimately on the director. Either the characters end up doing things that don't make sense (and this concludes our supernatural antagonists) or it's all just not so believable. He had a good thing going in the beginning when the creatures remained unseen but he reveals what they look like a bit too early into the movie and this sort of takes away from the whole horror experience. He certainly had a lot of shocking zinger moments but it really doesn't quite build up the sense of dread and hopelessness you sort of expect from horror movies.

I still had trouble with the movie given a lot of the scenes being rather gruesome, but that's about it. The story had me questioning the movie on so many levels that I don't understand why the movie had to come out at all. Obviously they wanted to capitalize on Del Toro's involvement as a writer and not much else.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark had a good thing going maybe in the first 15-30 minutes and then it went downhill from there. Thus it gets 1 Koi fish brought into the story for some unknown reason out of a possible 5.

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