The Tooth Gremlin
After success with movies such as "Cronos" and "Pan's Labyrinth" Guillermo del Toro's name carries with it some weight and so when you see it associated with "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" the 2010 remake of an iconic 1970's TV movie expectations are high. Unfortunately whilst del Toro worked on the screenplay the end result under the direction of Troy Nixey is a rather ordinary and frankly not very scary movie. In fact having never seen the original "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" this remake makes me think more along the lines of someone trying to turn "Gremlins" into a dark horror rather than horror comedy.
Young Sally (Bailee Madison - Bridge to Terabithia) is packaged off by her mum to live with her estranged father Alex (Guy Pearce - The King's Speech) and his girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes - Mad Money) who are in the process of renovating the run down home of artist Emerson Blackwood (Garry McDonald) who many decades earlier mysteriously disappeared. Not wanting to be there and not keen on Kim, Sally explores the old building and not only discovers a hidden basement but also uncovers something else. The question is with Alex desperate to complete the renovation to get his career back on track will anyone believe her when she tells them what is going on.
Let me tell you what is right about "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" because it is not all bad. The setting of a gothic house with elaborately carved doors is great and is the perfect setting for a horror movie. Leading on from that the whole production value of the movie is high with great use of lighting and some solid camera work even if the framing of shots has a familiar ring about them, such as a scene where Sally is taking a bath. And the acting all round is decent with young Bailee Madison impressing as Sally, making the character believable when scared.
But that is to be honest the only positives I have for this remake because beyond that it is rather boring. Part of the trouble is that "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" is just not scary; there is never any real sense of suspense and with much of the framing feeling like we have seen it before it is all too telegraphed. Maybe it is because we discover what the horror is too soon or maybe it is because the horror is more like "Gremlins" where we have malevolent little monsters that attack people and that it is.
But "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" has other problems especially when it comes to the whole movies logic. Things happen which in the real world just wouldn't happen from something as simple as would a little girl put her head through a hole which is covered in cob webs to the reactions of Alex and Kim to events. You basically have to let a lot of things fly to get it to work and even then the actual horror of the movie fails to work.
What this all boils down to is that "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" just didn't do it for me and whilst it featured high production values and great locations just didn't come close to being the scary movie it intended to be.