Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is a 2010 American Fantasy/Horror/Suspense remake of the 1973 ABC made for television movie of the same name. Directed by Troy Nixey a comic book artist and Written by Guillermo del Toro and Mathew Robbins. Set in Providence, RI home of American horror icon H.P. Lovecraft. Which I feel is a nice touch as his short story “Rats in the Walls” was part of the inspiration for this film.
The film starts in the basement of Blackwood Manor where Lord Blackwood takes the teeth out of one of a unwilling maid as an offering to things in the ash pit. The creatures had stolen his son and Lord Blackwood is trying to get him returned. The creatures seize him while he offers the teeth and drag him down the ash pit. Jump forward to modernish day. Sally (Baliee Madison) arrives to her new home with her father Alex (Guy Pearce) and his new girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes). Alex is upset about the move and is distant and moody. Sally soon after while exploring the grounds finds evidence of a basement that quickly leads to the doors discovery walled up. While exploring the basement, they find a locked up ash pit with “Be Afraid” carved in Elder Futhark. Shortly thereafter, Sally unseals the ash pit at the behest of voices coming from the ash pit. Inside she finds human teeth, having been placed there by Lord Blackwood. Things quickly turn for the worst as Sally is set upon by the malicious creatures from the ash pit. But no one believes her and think that she’s acting out. This leads to her being forced to see a therapist. Kim after a chain of events leads her to discover the history of the Blacklord Manor races home to help Sally. After a confrontation with the creatures Alex and Kim along with Sally decided to flee the house. While fleeing Alex and Kim are knocked unconscious. Kim wakes to Sally being dragged to the basement and chases after her, leading to their final confrontation in the basement.
Now the pacing in the movie is great. The slow, methodical tone in the inceptions builds amazingly to the showdown in the basement. I always find myself being pulled in deeper and deeper the longer the movie goes. Which sadly isn’t very long, clocking in at 99 minutes.
The music is great supporting the scene with never stealing it. But as good as the soundtrack is the film makers new that silence is just as key. So the music never feels like its overstayed it’s welcome. But as good as it is and its great placement it does feel a bit cliche at times.
Nixey’s work as a comic book artist shows in his direction of this film. I think it’s a large part of why I like this film so much. The film is full of great cinematography with one of my favorite shorts being the handyman’s emergence from the basement. The creatures are also well thought out and designed, but conversely they are all also CGI with little to no practical effects were used.
So what’s my opinion of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark? I think its great, not a masterpiece, but still great. Del Toro’s influence is heavily felt through the whole film. The acting is all passable with no one really stepping over the line into campy or cheese. So I have to give it a 6.5/10.