Friday, August 26, 2011

A Reel Review: DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK



One thing about DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK is for absolute certain: there will never ever be any sympathy for the villainous little monsters that live under the basement and scurry about inside the walls. They are tiny, bloodthirsty and ugly little bastards who prey upon children for their teeth. They are a clever and interesting take on the tooth fairy and other fairy tales involving children being taken from their beds. Surviving them is the plot of DARK, and it’s just enough to keep this haunted house tale afloat.

Young Sally (Bailee Madison) is sent to live with her father Alex (Guy Pearce) and her soon-to-be stepmother Kim (Katie Holmes). Alex and Kim are refurbishing an old home with a wicked past; a past known only to the groundskeeper. Soon after moving in, Sally manages to unleash the little demons that live in the basement, and must try to convince her family that there is pending danger in the house.

DARK isn’t really the most original horror film ever made; packed tight with classic clich├ęs. There is the little girl who discovers the creatures, the doubting father who is more concerned with success, and the new mom who discovers her maternal instincts while being the only one who believes in the threat. Aside from that, the characters are thinly drawn and the plot is just as weak. Surviving the threat of the little monsters is the only storyline, with only a quick subplot of a decades-old cover-up for any serious meat.

Produced by Guillermo Del Toro and directed by Troy Nixey, DARK still manages to entertain and offer a few well-timed scares. Keeping the creatures in the dark literally) for most of the film is the best choice made, as our imaginations run wild trying to figure out where the little bastards will come out from next. There is a great atmosphere of tension and buildup throughout, and the payoff is worth the wait.

The creatures are only spotted in glimpses for the most of the film, and they are at their strongest when only heard and peeked at. When the curtain is finally pulled back in the third act and they are revealed in all their CGI glory, their look, despite the creepy design, is a little disappointing. CGI in this day and age should be able to pull off a more convincing creature.

Bailee Madison shows off some really good acting chops in some places, and lousy ones in others. Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes both fit their roles well, with Holmes proving that she still has a lot to offer in her career.

Overall DARK is a neat little haunted house tale. It’s not the most original film ever made, nor is it the scariest, but it’s worth a look and good fun.

BOTTOM LINE: Rent it

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