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Monday, July 2, 2012

Day 184: Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark

Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark
Just turn on a night light and you'll be fine

The entire world is devastated by the news of the breakup between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. I thought those kids would make it last forever. If they can't make it work, can any of us find true happiness that involves jumping on a couch on national television? It's tough, but we'll have to persevere. May Lord Xemu grant us the strength and may out thetan levels reach maximum Hubbardedness. In honor of their magical time together, I thought it was only right to review a movie involving Katie Holmes being attacked by mythical creatures. Grab on to your e-meters and let's go!

Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark is a 2011 horror remake of a 1973 film of the same name. Co-written by Guillermo Del Toro (Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth), the movie stars Katie Holmes (Batman Begins, Dawson's Creek) as Kim and Guy Pearce (The King's Speech, Memento) as Alex Hurst. Alex has purchased and is restoring Blackwood Manor, an old mansion in Rhode Island. His 8 year-old daughter Sally (Bailee Madison, The Haunting Hour, Just Go With It) arrives to live at the house and immediately hates it. Kim, who is dating Alex, tries to connect with Sally, but is unsuccessful. Sally is depressed and on Adderall, thanks to her mother. She wanders the grounds of the mansion and comes across a basement hidden by trees. Mr. Harris, the groundskeeper, warns her not to go in the basement, but she ignores his warning and explores the room. She is drawn to a fireplace and begins to hear voices coming from deep inside, beckoning her to let them out so they can play. The creatures soon reek havoc throughout the house, with the blame going to Sally. They soon begin to attack her and even put Mr. Harris in the hospital. Her increased fear and anxiety prompts Alex to call a psychiatrist. Meanwhile, Kim visits Mr. Harris in the hospital who tells her to go to the library and research Lord Blackwood. She discovers artwork by Blackwood that depicts dark, evil creatures, strikingly similar to pictures that Sally draws. These creatures feast on the teeth of children and occasionally turn a human into one of them to replenish their ranks. Will Kim be able to save Sally before it is too late?

I miss Dawson and Pacey so much right now

Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark is different from a lot of R-rated horror movies in that the main character is a child. It's kind of odd considering the original didn't do this and you have two relatively big stars in more supporting than starring roles. While this adds a different level of fear and suspense, it also adds a new level of annoyance. I don't know what it is, but it feels like every child in a horror movie is either extremely annoying or extremely stupid. The Sally character is more the former than the latter. She is far too moody and made me cheer for the creatures to get her. By having the main character be a child under duress, the movie felt like it was geared more towards pre-teens than adults. This movie would be better suited for a sleepover party than a midnight movie. The movie tends to drag between action scenes

That doesn't mean it isn't scary. The movie focuses on good old-fashioned atmospheric horror than outright startling moments. If you like Vincent Price-style haunted house movies, you'll probably get a kick out of certain scenes. There is good usage of shadows and sound as the whispering creatures are creepy to listen to and leave the audience with an uneasy and unshakable feeling. The creatures themselves look decent for CGI special effects, but I couldn't help but feel that a swift kick to a few of them would have solved a lot of problems. There is some violence, but not as much as you would expect. Katie Holmes' and Guy Pearce's performances are both fine, but nothing special.

Looks like a Chupacabra mated with an alien

Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark had a lot of potential, but just didn't fully succeed in execution. While it was nice to remake a movie that a good amount of people have not seen, the new version didn't improve upon the original. There are some good atmospheric scares and a general creepiness, but nothing shocking and truly haunting. Focusing too much on the little girl took away from the story and made me look at a character I found very annoying. The performances are all passable, but there wasn't much in the way of character development. The movie lacked an appropriate amount of blood and violence, which would have made everything far more enjoyable. Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark is watchable, but it's not very enjoyable. We'll miss you, TomKat.


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