DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK 2011: The Hughes Verdict

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What is it all about?

When Sally (Bailee Madison) goes to live with her father (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend (Katie Holmes) she feels lonely, lonely enough to open up a fireplace where she can hear voices promising to be her friend if she lets them out. Little does she know she is about to unleash demons into the house, demons who will carry out evil deeds.

   The Hughes Verdict 

So you have this handyman who works around the house.  One day he appears from the cellar full of blood and screaming for help.  It looks like someone has tried to kill him so do you,

A: Demand to know what happened, want the answers from everyone in case the supposed killer returns?
B: Just pretend that nothing happened, do not mention the handyman again and just make sure that life goes on because you do not really care about your little girls safety!…
Now if its B then well done, you will love everything about this horror re-make of the 1973 cult classic, but if you like the majority who just want to watch a horror that does not insult your intelligence in every single turn, then maybe you should watch something else, because make no mistake Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark at times is a right royal mess.
Before I go into a slight little rant I have to put my hands up and say there are many good things to like about Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark.  First its a hark back to the golden days when such films like The Gate was winning fans of the horror genre, also I loved the grand design of the entire picture, from the booming music score to the old fashioned setting where the old huge mansion sparks memories of good old Hammer Horror.  The film to my surprise also brings out a real good performance by Katie Holmes whose character Kim and her relationship with the young girl Sally is one of the most stronger aspects of the storyline.  Her battle to be accepted into this miserable young girl’s life is the films heartbeat and I also found sympathy for Sally whose performance by the young Madison more or less saves the film from an all together utter disaster, it was her alone that made the last hour more of an easier watch than it should have been.
Do not get me wrong, this film is not awful, I mean I have seen some shit this year and this does not actually scrape the barrel, but when you have a likeable cast, a good setting and also an old fashioned story, then you do not expect it to go horribly wrong.
Firstly, I loved the setting, the huge mansion with its huge library looks like it has jumped out of the Disney film Beauty and The Beast and I loved the feel of the film.  I have said many times that its  time for horror to go back to proper scares than selling out to cheap gore porn and I could appreciate the effort gone into making this film be like those of old.  The grand rich music score booms from the surround sound  and with the touch of Guillermo del Toro serving in the background of this film, you see shades of Pan Labyrinth which of course can only be a good thing!
So what is the problem?
Well its the story and basically lack of one that brings the whole show crashing down.  Its a concept that many have seen too many times before and the lack of surprises and most importantly scares is the fundamental problem that makes this supposed horror come across so lame.
Every single cliche box is ticked in front of our very eyes and even then they do it wrong.  Take the handyman scene.  Well here we see the poor bastard being attacked and left for dead by these little critters and we have to accept that nothing gets done about it.  I mean where is the police investigation?, why are the parents not asking the right questions especially when its plain obvious that he suffered no accident.  Now I am no storyteller but even I knew what the film should have done!
Already they had established that poor Sally was a mixed up girl who already had been blamed for cutting up her new Stepmom’s clothes, now won’t it had been better for the film and for a certain thing called tension if the parents suspected  that their young girl may have caused those injuries.  I mean his cuts were so low the first thing the police would have thought that it must have been someone small, and considering there is only one human in the house that size then it would have been a case of just putting 2 and 2 together. It would have added more weight to the plot, a confused young girl may be a murderer whose dad refuses to believe and which the new Stepmom suspects.
But noooooooooooooooooooo!
That would have been too hard to write and complicate things so instead they went for the easy solution and just ignore the situation and carry on living there.  Of course the little critters who live in the fireplace in the cellar are nothing but a bunch of useless twits who look like an offspring from the sexual encounter between Golem and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  I mean these little killers are hopeless.  Seriously, I mean they have plenty of time to grab this little girl and drag her into their lair but do feck all about it!  What are they waiting?  Oh yes!  For the last twenty minutes to arrive because before then its all about the tease and also it needs like 2000 of them to take down one person.
Also they must have taken lessons from Gizmo because they are scared of bright light which if you think of it, makes the title of the film make no sense whatsoever.  Don’t Be afraid of the dark? but you have to be if your torchlight stops working which believe me happens a few times, so should the film have been called “Do Be Afraid Of The Dark“…
Of course by the time everyone believes the poor little girl then chaos looms but that is before everyone does stupid things to make sure they are in the position that endangers them and I am sorry but maybe I was tired or just had given up the will to concentrate with the madness but I just did not get the end one bit.  I mean what was all that about?, please tell me because it went straight over my head.
Overall, this new imagination of the 73 cult is not so imaginative, its lack of real good ideas and scares makes it some kind of redundant to the more experienced horror fan and apart from a good bathroom scene and the moment under the bed sheet, when this finally finished and I sat back, my first thought was that I had just watched a kids horror, because that is how lame the whole experience is.
Frightening?  Yes, but only if you are under 11…..
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

[pt-filmtitle]Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2011)[/pt-filmtitle]

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About Ross Hughes 524 Articles
Since my mother sat me down at the age of five years of age and watched a little called Halloween, I have been hooked on horror. There is no other genre that gets me excited and takes me to the edge of entertainment. I watch everything from old, new, to cheap and blockbusters, but I promise all my readers that I will always give an honest opinion, and I hope whoever reads this review section, will find a film that they too can love as much as I do! Have fun reading, and please DO HAVE NIGHTMARES!!!!!!

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