* Prices may differ from that shown
About the film
Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark is a 2011 horror film by Guillermo del Toro. It is also a remake of a 1973 made for TV horror film of the same name. It was released at the cinema in the UK on 7th October. The film is rated 15 due to scenes of a frightening nature and it has a run time of 99 minutes.
Flashback: In Blackwood Manner, Lord Blackwood summons one of his staff down into the basement where he kills her, removing her teeth. While he offers them to the mysterious creatures hiding in the furnace, he begs for them to give his son back to him.
Modern Day: A girl girl Sally arrives at the airport to meet her father, Alex as she is now going to live with him. Along with his girlfriend Kim, Alex realises that Sally is very upset at the situation she has been put in but thinks she will learn to get used to it. Upon arriving at her new home, the house that Alex and Kim are restoring, she doesn't feel any happier. On her first night, she receives a carousel as a gift but as soon as she plays it, the music awakens the creatures hiding in the hidden furnace.
On exploring the house and finding the secret basement, which had been boarded up for very good reasons, Sally unlocks the furnace and decides to make friends with these dark and scary creatures. What she doesn't bargain for though is their hostility and the fact that they don't want to be friends with her at all. With Alex and Kim not believing her about what is happening, Sally must convince them before she ends up like Lord Blackwood's son.
Bailee Madison as Sally Hirst
Katie Holmes as Kim
Guy Pearce as Alex Hirst
Alan Dale as Jacoby
Jack Thompson as Harris
Julia Blake as Mrs. Underhill
Garry McDonald as Emerson Blackwood
Edwina Ritchard as Housekeeper (Miss Winter)
Nicholas Bell as Psychiatrist
James Mackay as Librarian
What I thought
I have to start by saying that this was a film I actually didn't want to see at the time. A friend and I were supposed to go and see something else but couldn't due to restrictions on our 2 for 1 tickets. This was the next film showing and my friend begged me to see this instead, even though I had no clue what it was about.
As soon as the film got started though, I was instantly interested and creeped out at the same time. Setting the scene is a flashback to a very dark and manky house with an equally dark and manky guy living in it. The opening of the film explains what is about to come. For me, this ruined the film a bit as it took away a lot of the element of surprise even though noting is revealed fully at this time. When the main part of the film began, it really reminded me of The Amityville Horror set in the modern day. You know instantly that bad things are going to happen to people who move into massive, scary houses that seem to be in the middle of no where. Although the story has quite a slow build up, there is also a lot of mystery that keeps things interesting.
Bailee Madison plays one of the main roles, the young girl Sally and it is not an easy role to play either. For a girl so young (12 this year) I thought that she did an exceptional job. Sally is quite a complex and emotional character and Madison conveyed this well. It was clear how troubled Sally was with her new family situation and I really felt sorry for her because of how unhappy and miserable she was. The fact that she wanted to go and explore this new house and make 'friends' was completely understandable to me considering her situation.
Playing the role of Sally's dad, Alex, is Guy Pearce. While he does do a good job, he is quite forgettable compared to other cast members. Next to his girlfriend Kim played by Katie Holmes, he might as well have not been there for the majority of the film. I'm not the biggest fan of Katie Holmes generally but she did really well here. Her contact/ dialogue with Madison was believable and convincing and the two had a great on-screen relationship. The fear and suspense was played well from both sides and this made the whole situation feel a lot more real.
I didn't even know this was a Guillermo del Toro film until it began but if I had done, I would have wanted to see it sooner (or in general). Del Toro is amazing at taking such a simple concept and making it dark, complex and interesting. I had no idea that a children's story could be something so disturbing. I can't say that I was scared exactly but definitely freaked out. Del Toro's horror films are made so that you're never completely sure what to think but I love the way his visions come across on a big screen.
Even though I didn't want to see this to begin with, I am glad I got talked into it. There isn't a del Toro film that I haven't enjoyed to date and I hope it stays that way.