Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

Directed By: Troy Nixey

Starring: Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, and Bailee Madison

2011 has not been a particularly great year for horror flicks.  There's just been one waste of fake blood after another.  Bringing Guillermo del Toro into the horror fold for a run at producing Don't Be Afraid of the Dark was a beacon of hope.  His well-documented creativity and unique visuals would have been a welcomed addition to the genre.  It was supposed to be the light at the end of the tunnel.  After all, del Toro has vividly brought many monsters to life on the big screen in films like Hellboy, Hellboy II, and Pan's Labyrinth.  Sadly, my expectations were far from met in Don't Be Afraid of the Dark.

Alex (Guy Pearce), Kim (Katie Holmes), and Sally (Bailee Madison) arrive at Blackwood Manor, the former home of the late Emerson Blackwood (Garry McDonald).  Alex is an architect there to restore Blackwood Manor and his career.  Kim is his girlfriend and an interior decorator who comes along to help them.  Sally, Alex's daughter, moves in with her father because she's been having issues at home with her mother.  As they get acclimated to Blackwood Manor, Sally learns the dark secrets of the mansion and its mythical creatures that prey on the flesh of children.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark at first offers some thrills, but they don't last.  The killer in a horror film has to back up his threats.  The mythical creatures in Nixey's flick don't do so at all.  While they initially eliminate Blackwood, there are no murders throughout the vast majority of the flick.  If you offer a film with plenty of bark but no bite, there is nothing to fear.  Without the kills, we've got no reason to fear the dark like Sally does.  Nixey and del Toro fail miserably on this front.

Additionally, the creatures in Don't Be Afraid of the Dark are not visually impressive.  I realize that the creatures are small and that this offers few opportunities to define them on a grand scale, but del Toro has a reputation for more stunning visuals than this.  These creatures should be genuinely scary at the sight of them.  Instead, the filmmakers offer us ugly gray Smurfs.

Overall, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is a big disappointment.  With the names behind the film, I expected much better.  The acting is decent, but there's nothing else there to make the film enjoyable.  Nixey’s lull of a film gets a 0.09% rating.  Don't waste your time on Don't Be Afraid of the Dark.  If you do, have some mixed drinks at the ready.