Thursday, January 5, 2012

Review of "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark"


        When will I learn?

         First I waste time last night with "Cowboys and Aliens", and then I spend a couple of hours tonight with something a little less annoying, but still ultimately incredibly stupid -- "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark".

I guess it's a remake of an old TV movie of the same name, which I kind of think I may have seen years ago… but it did not make much of an impression upon me -- certainly not as much as it apparently did upon Guillermo del Toro, who co-wrote and, I think, produced this remake.

And he usually does such interesting stuff. Too bad he wasted his time -- and ours -- with this ridiculous excuse for a horror film.

It does have a few interesting bits. The creatures -- grotesque, scuttling, rat-sized homunculi infesting an old mansion -- are well-realized. The setting -- the mansion -- is nice to look at.


Yeah, that's about it. The rest of it is just several different shades of running around screaming-type nonsense.

The plot revolves around a little girl, Sally, and her attempts to convince her distracted father and his girlfriend (played by none other than Mrs. Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes) that there are these weird little things bothering her. Eventually, the girlfriend decides to believe the kid, but as you might guess, it's too little, too late.

There are several points in the film where you might think "Aha! NOW she's going to be able to show them that these things are REAL!" The first one is when she takes a Polaroid photo of one of them (not sure why there is a Polaroid camera in this movie, as it takes place in contemporary times), and for some reason, the photo takes WAY longer to develop than any normal Polaroid photo should, so the creatures steal it from her and destroy it before she can show it to anyone.

And then the girl is trapped in the library with a bunch of the creatures, and she manages to squish one between two halves of a set of heavy, sliding book shelves, and we even see one of the squished creature's arms fall off and land on the floor. But do we then see the kid drag her father or his girlfriend over to the spot where the creature is squished, or point to the arm on the floor, and say "Look!"? 

No, of course not. That would have required some clever writing and imagination.

Instead, the depredations of the creatures continue, until they tie ropes around the girl's legs and start dragging her down into the basement, where they clearly intend to pull her through the little door into the ash pit from whence they first emerged.

The girlfriend comes home to find this going on and tries to save the girl. She succeeds, but is herself dragged through the ash pit door by the creatures -- at this point in full view of the little girl and her father. 

Okay, great, you say -- surely now that the father knows these things are real, and he saw his girlfriend disappear screaming down into this ash pit below the mansion, he will move heaven and earth to rescue her. Surely within minutes, screentime-wise, there will be heavy equipment brought in to dig up the cellar of this cursed mansion and locate the girlfriend, be she dead or alive or transformed into one of the homunculi. Right?


The movie ends with the father apparently making ZERO efforts to bring his girlfriend back from the clutches of these spawn of the devil. He does NOTHING except walk away with his daughter.


I hate this crap. -- PL


Sarah The Anime Librarian said...

Another one that I wanted to see at first, but then heard terrible things about. And thats really too bad because I adore Guillermo del Toro- I loved Pan's Labrynth, and I really liked the Hellboy films. This seemed like it could really have been a great film if he didn't allow the script to stoop to such typical hollywood fare.

Mark H said...

I'm glad I checked your blog today. I was thinking of renting this tonight for my wife and I to watch. After reading your review I think I will pass. I'll rent "Contagion" with Mr. Matt Damon instead. I just hope that's a good movie. When money is tight renting a movie becomes a rare treat. I hate wasting money on a bad movie You may have just saved me a few bucks and some frustration. Thanks for the review Pete!

Anonymous said...

A good horror movie that left my slepless for nights was Insidious. Its got demon posession but not from a religious view. The director wrote down common cliches used in horror movies and tagged them all over his wall so he wound not use them. He also used alot of architectue common in family homes, so after watching simply going to your bedroom might be a bit of a quick dash. also dont let anyone with blood pressure issues watch this.