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Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

Updated on July 27, 2020
Harem Cinema profile image

Movies are magical. They are a form of story telling that just cannot be replicated by any other medium. The whole film experience rocks.

Monsters In the Basement

When a young girl is sent away by her mother and forced to live with her father and his new girlfriend, things do not go smoothly. They live in a large large, vintage mansion that makes you wonder what stories they would tell if the walls could talk. Well, in this house, the walls would tell you to run, to get as far away from this house of horror as you could get.

Fear Is Never Just Make Believe

Del Toro Horror Movie
Del Toro Horror Movie

From Guillermo del Toro

Director of The Devil's Backbone (2001)

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark Teaser

A Powerfully Scary Story

When Nigel McKeand wrote the screenplay for this story back in 1973 he tapped into some very basic and very powerful fears that we all share. Most of us are afraid of the dark and our imagination runs frantic at the thoughts of unseen dreads that hide there, waiting to pounce out at us. Similarly, most children and even many adults, have an almost superstitious fear of the basement. What's down there? Surely some terrible fiend intent on devouring us. But that's the fun of horror movies. We want to be scared. Well the good news is that this movie will do just that. It combines two of our most primal terrors and unleashes them on us.

The nightmares in this story are released quite by accident, the simple fault of a child's curiosity. She unwittingly releases some hidden creatures that are hiding in the basement, trapped behind an old grate over an ash pit. She wants them to come out and play with her. She has no way of knowing the misery that she will let loose on them all. These creatures do not want to play. They want to feed.

Beasts In The Dark Reaching For You

There Is No Safe Place
There Is No Safe Place

What An All Star Cast

This movie has an awful lot of proven, talented and successful film stars in it.

The Cast of Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark

Jack Thompson. Although he only has a small amount of screen time in this movie, Jack sure does make an impression, as he always does. You will probably remember him from the hit movie Breaker Morant (1980) which was based on a horribly true story.

Katie Holmes stars as the girlfriend who has to deal with the problems of the little girl and the night terrors she keeps insisting are real. If you saw Holmes in The Gift (2000) then you know that she can act.

Guy Pearce plays the boyfriend and the father.in this ugly, little story. I've never been much of a fan of this guy but he did win me over with his performance in L.A. Confidential (1997). He's got a pretty solid fan base so I am sure there will be many of you out there keen to see this movie just because he is in it.

Alan Dale. A solid actor who's been in a lot of movies, he may best be remembered in recent years for his roles in Captain America: the Winter Soldier (2014) and ndiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).

All Star Cast

Cast of Star Actors
Cast of Star Actors

Little Visitors In The Night

It's Been Made Before

This isn't the first time that this story has been made into a movie. In fact it was originally made as a TV movie back in 1973. That's when I first saw it and it scared the hell out of me. Now this may be nostalgia overwhelming me but I actually prefer the 1973 movie better than this 2010 version. That might be a result of personal preferences so you will have to decide for yourself which one you like better. The common criticisms of this new version is that we see too much of the creatures. Reviewer after reviewer all agree that once we have seen the thing that hides in the dark, some suspense is taken out of the story.

Be that as it may, there is still some pretty good stuff to enjoy in this film. The opening scene, for example, is very effective. I personally found it hard to understand anybody in this first scene without the help of the subtitles function but it was still a great scene that will hook you.

Spoilers Ahead

Like with most film reviews, there are going to some spoilers coming up that reveal key aspects of this story. You have been warned.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The opening credits were pretty decent but I couldn't help but be reminded of the horror classic The Re-Animator (1985). Nothing wrong with that since that is one of my favorite movies of all time.

The actress that plays the daughter (Bailee Madison) does an effective job. At no point do you feel like she is acting. She comes across as real and believable. Right from the start she is sullen, withdrawn and creepy. Perfect for this movie.

Visually it is a very beautiful movie. The house and the overall atmosphere is quite lovely and it is easy to get drawn into the world where the story is happening.

The scene where the little girl is working to free the demonic creatures is really unsettling. The beasts are whispering to her and she is talking back to them. She wants to play with them and thinks that they want to play with her. But they don't want to play at all. They want to do bad things to her.

The story unfolds with a reasonable level of believability given the subject matter but it's not all wins and kisses. let's take a look at some of the things that I really didn't like.

The Bad

This film is an example of what happens when you let the CGI FX guys run with scissors. Don't get me wrong, the little fiends look pretty good but we see them a lot. I mean a lot. And they tend to look like what you would see on the computer screen of a CGI model builder. Not that the art is bad, it's just not light with the eye of a cinematographer.

There is also a scene where the camera flies us through a vent, down some drain pipes and through the house. Please, please, filmmakers, I'm begging you, stop it with this silliness. Sure, if you have to, make the scene. But please leave it out of the movie. The cutting room floor is where that dreck belongs so just leave it there.

Finally, the worst, yet inevitable thing that is wrong with this movie is Guillermo del Toro. I was such a HUGE fan of this guy when i first started watching his early work. And then, somehow, it all went horribly wrong. If you are familiar with the man you can easily see his own, personal preferences manhandling this film into what he wishes it was. He should have left it alone and let the story be what the story was. Oh well. Despite his rough massaging of it, this movie is still a decent watch with some quite good moments that you will enjoy.

Own Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark (2010)

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
Fondly remembered for scaring the Tab out of impressionable viewers, 1973's television movie Don't Be Afraid of the Dark stands today as a minor classic of irrational dream-logic horror, with an ending that goes straight for the worst-case scenario. Despite (or perhaps because of) its wonky effects, minimalist character development, and snicker-worthy Freudisms, it knows how to linger into the wee small hours. Cowriter-producer Guillermo del Toro's mash note of a remake is a superior movie in virtually all aspects, really, yet it somehow fails to ping the same whimpering neurons. Director Troy Nixey's film follows the same basic blueprint as the source material--a fractured family (Guy Pearce, Katie Holmes, and Bailee Madison) moves into a dark old house, only to be tormented by a gaggle of tiny chatterbox demons--but with a much greater emphasis on the mythology and back story of the creatures. Del Toro has long proclaimed his love for the original movie, and it's rather fascinating to see the filmmaker attempt to shoehorn his own trademark obsessions (grim fairy-tale origins, spooky little girls, odd Lovecraftian angles, etc.) into the existing material. Still, such Gothic curlicues, however nifty, ultimately end up diluting the solid-state nightmare fuel of the premise. Aside from a few solid shocks and a strong performance by Holmes, this heartfelt redo is unlikely to have the same lasting effect on audiences as the much cruder original. Instead of focusing on the hows and whys, that one just wanted to freak the viewer out. --Andrew Wright
 

The Original Movie Review

Buy Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark 1973 (the Original)

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (Remastered, Special Edition)
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (Remastered, Special Edition)
It's back! The classic TV MOW that continues to cast a spell almost 40 years after it was first broadcast; in a new remastered and enhanced edition. Sally (Kim Darby) and Alex Farnham's (Jim Hutton) marriage has a sinister wedge driven through it; when her occult "imaginings" threaten to derail his career after they inherit Sally's grandmother's house. Also starring William Demarest. Enhanced Content: Superfan commentary track from horror fans and pros Jeffrey Reddick, Steve Barton ("Uncle Creepy") and Sean Abley.
 

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 HaremCinema

Comments

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    • Harem Cinema profile imageAUTHOR

      HaremCinema 

      10 months ago

      Peggy I never liked horror movies myself when I was young. I don't know why because we watched a lot of them. I think maybe I got a little burned out on them.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      10 months ago from Houston, Texas

      I generally shy away from horror movies, but you have written a good review of the older and newer movie version. The mansion sounds gorgeous from your description except for the scary beings in the basement.

    • Harem Cinema profile imageAUTHOR

      HaremCinema 

      12 months ago

      Glad to have encouraged you, Rajan. I hope that you enjoy them both.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      12 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      The review of the film makes me watch both the original and the newer version of the movie. Thanks for sharing.

    • Harem Cinema profile imageAUTHOR

      HaremCinema 

      12 months ago

      Thanks for reading! Sorry about all the ads. The platform has to make it's money somehow. Glad you liked the article anyway. Please keep coming back and check out some of my other articles.

    • profile image

      Film Fan 

      12 months ago

      Good review but too many damned advertisements on the page. Chokes up the reading by trying to sell you something not even related to the article. Pity. Keep writing though.

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