Don't be Afraid of the Dark (Rated R) Three Stars
Oh, darling Guillermo … we have been here before. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (99 minutes) deals with themes you have been working with your whole life. It is clear from Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone (among others) that you love your little dark haired innocents. You love to torture them, anyway. The jury is still out on Director Troy Nixey. I’m gonna go ahead and give him credit for producing genuine scares here, since the film did not suffer from lack of atmosphere, just plot holes.
The film begins by borrowing some cheap sadistic thrills from Marathon Man. Feel free to show up late to the theater if you hate amateur dentistry, since the prologue is a bit unnecessary thanks to a later in the film recap. There are, at least, some interesting shots that are, oddly enough, reminding me of Neil Marshall’s 2005 film The Descent, if that film featured an inexplicable tooth fetish.
The prologue over, the scene changes to (and this is the weird part) some unidentified year, possibly 1973, the year of the original telefilm. Did they have such generic clothes in 1973 that they still look modern today? Or are the characters actually in the present day, but choosing to use dead photographic tech-nology involving flashbulbs? But wait. Do they still make flashbulbs? Did flash-bulbs in 1973 last through several dozen flashes? Because the ones I used in the mid-eighties were like, six flashes and done. And by the millennium, everything was digital anyway. Who is responsible for including the helpful place/time tag on period movies? Fire him. He did not do his job.
But I digress. Whenever the film is placed, children are allowed to take cross country trips alone. Sally (Bailee Madison) is going to stay with her Daddy Alex (Guy Pearce) and Daddy’s little sister…what was that? That’s not his sister? Oh dear. Well, born in ‘78 does not jailbait make. So, she’s staying with Daddy and Daddy’s young, hot, girlfriend in the thin-walled mansion they are redecorating. Good thing Sally is already taking medication because a ways down the road she is probably going to need therapy.
For some reason, Sally does not want to make friends with Kim (Katie Holmes). And, after all the trouble Kim took to put her in the bedroom right next door to Daddy’s bedroom! But there is someone Sally does want to make friends with. The creepy disembodied voices that like to bite the heads off Barbie dolls. To this end, she wanders around with feet exposed so that the monster under the bed can more easily grab her little pink ankles and drag her screaming into the darkness. Also, she does not sleep with her lights on even after it becomes clear that the creatures attached to the creepy disembodied voices flee from bright light. Not that there is any consistency to their fleeing, since they seem pretty comfortable as long as they are shaded by flowers, even if they are in a brightly lit entry hall.
It’s not as though Sally’s caretakers are willing to humor her, either. While Daddy is away she is sent alone into a vast bathroom bigger than my kitchen while the housekeeper heads down a couple flights of stairs to the other side of the house. This, even in 1973, would seem to teeter on the edge of child en-dangerment. Luckily for Sally, that flimsy shower curtain evidently has creature repelling powers because when the inevitable child endangerment occurs, she emerges without a scratch on her.
There are several major plot points that get dropped (evidence of the crea-tures that is never followed up on, what governs their emergence, their obsession with children’s teeth), but overall, a decently scary flick with some good moments.
Now showing at Wynnsong 7, Carmike 12 and Carmike Market Fair 15.