Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark: Tense, Dark, Charming
Bailee MadisonGuy Pearce...
In 1 Cinema
This is a story about a haunted house. But there are no ghosts; just scores of little,
fuzzy, grey, fanged gremlins who make a hobby out of hissing in human speak.
They live in the house’s basement but are unleashed into the world when the
little girl who’s just moved in with her dad and his girlfriend,
unwittingly sets them free. They creep around, staying out of the light,
terrorizing the girl in an attempt to drag her down to their hole in the
basement and make dinner out of her. Unfortunately for her, her dad prefers to
attribute her claims to psychological problems and she’s left to, more or less, fend for herself.
The film opens with its most gruesome scene; a man pinning down a woman
and chiselling her teeth right out of her mouth. This may be a blessing for the
easily frightened but it doesn’t bode well for horror aficionados. Lack of
gore notwithstanding, the film does manage to stay relatively tense due mainly
to the awesome score.
Madison, who plays young Sally young is the best actress in the film;
which should not be the case when you’re starring alongside established actors
like Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes. Either way, she’s legitimately good. She’s
not the super creepy type of child; the kind Dakota Fanning for instance was so
good at portraying, nor is she all rainbows and unicorns. She’s not
adjusting well to living with her dad and his girlfriend, and she’s rather
depressed but all in all, she’s a good kid. Her problems give her a certain
edge and her nobody-believes-me spiel has you kind of hating her workaholic
The film’s standout star though is the absolutely stunning house. It sets a new bar for gorgeously creepy sets and is only made all the more
awesome by the history built up for it in the film.
The one thing setting the film apart from the pack is Guillermo Del
Toro’s involvement and that detail is being milked for all it’s worth in the
marketing campaign though this film is highly mediocre compared to the rest of
his oeuvre. The film isn’t particularly scary nor are the creatures
particularly well designed. That’s not to say that it’s a bad film because it
isn’t. It’s actually fairly engaging and absolutely gorgeous, but considering
the pedigree involved, it should have been far better.