Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark: "You're Sitting There In The Dark; But Don't Worry, There's Nothing To Be Afraid Of"
Writer: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Katie Holmes
Release date: 7/10/11
A remake of the 70's made-for-TV film, which is fun, exciting and full of jump-out-of-your-seat moments.
The film starts by setting up the story of Blackwood Manor, and the story to come. Emerson Blackwood lures his maid down to the basement, only to trap her and tell her they have taken his son and they want teeth before they'll set him free. He then proceeds to rip her teeth out, but this isn't enough for them and he is dragged into the fireplace in the basement. We then cut to present day and Alex and Kim (Pierce & Holmes) are picking up Sally (Madison) from the airport. Sally is the daughter of Alex and Kim is her future step-mother, this of course means their relationship is strained and they have a journey to take. This is the first time I have seen Holmes acting, ever, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. She was endearing, genuine and I really believed in her and her character. She was able to take her character on a journey with such ease, and made it really easy for me to watch her on screen. Again, I have never seen Pierce in anything, and he was good, not great, but good. He played the distant father well, and he was relatable, but that was it really, he played it well.
The stand out performance for me had to be Bailey, she is sweet, innocent and gives the character such depth and emotion, and for a small girl it really was terrific. It actually reminded me of the first time I saw Dakota Fanning in 'War of the Worlds', and that really is a compliment. I have seen her in Disney films and the odd TV appearance, but this really is her stand out role, and her performance will really make Hollywood sit up and pay attention. Her connection and chemistry with Holmes was spot on, and their bonding scenes really were sweet to watch and gave the film a nice balance between scares and genuine emotion felt scenes. Her and Pierce weren't as good together, but I think that is down to Pierce's cliched character, so I'll let them off.
The film also had nice supporting characters that allowed for some down time and calmer scenes to unfold. The help at the Manor included Harris and Mrs Underhill (Thompson & Blake) and they were almost like grandparents to Sally. Harris is the Grandson of Emerson Blackwood, and does whatever he can to try and protect the family from them because he knows all the history. Unfortunately this ends up with him being attacked by them and ending up in hospital. Mrs Underhill is the Maid but she also looks after Sally during the day. She clearly cares for Sally and is visibly upset when Sally is scared. Both actors are honest and believable and add a nice layer on top of the main trio.
When I refer to them, I am talking about the antagonists in the film, small goblin like creatures that torment and torture the family. Admittedly today's horror/movie fans probably will find them "dumb" and "hilarious", but I liked them and think they fit perfectly for what they were meant to be. The idea of creatures living in the shadows is scary, especially as child, and that is how I'd imagine they'd look.
The writing was a bit cliched and the character of Alex wasn't likable or enjoyable to watch. That being said, the way they set the scenes and changing the protagonist from an adult to a child was so clever and made the film so much more enjoyable to watch. The fact that the creatures are something a child could imagine existing is what makes that decision so inspired and I applaud the writers for doing that. The directing was creepy, and he built the tension superbly. What I loved about the film the most is the way the director made it feel like an old 70's B-movie, and how in this movie climate a film like this was really needed. It wasn't gory, no sexes were taken advantage of and it was just a good old fashioned horror film, and that is what makes it work so well. When it's released in cinemas, it is definitely one I would recommend you see on the build-up to Halloween.