We’ve all heard those late night sounds and bumps in the night that have kept us up throughout our childhoods. Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark preys on those memories and shapes them into new-found nightmares. The movie is immediately teeming with the childhood dreads and paranoia we’ve all dealt with throughout our lifetimes. It takes those unreasonable fears and gives them a face and voice that is worthy of any 8-year-old gripping tightly to their sheets.
You see Guillermo Del Toro’s hand in this movie from the very first time you see the movie’s heroine, Salley, who is played by the young and talented Bailee Madison. Del Toro has a way of showing the truth and steadfastness of youth that many writers, directors, and producers tend to write off as simple hubris or ignorance of reality. Instead we see a child that shows all the inquisitiveness seen in other movies but also the cunning and ingenuity that is a staple in movies like Pan’s Labyrinth. Bailee also gives a performance that outshines both Guy Pierce and Katie Holmes, who serve only to play as background pieces to what is really happening.
The focus of a child as the protagonist is what made this movie really work for me. It made for a mix of real terror that any one can feel mixed with the fear of the unknown that we’ve all experienced as children. This mix made for an uneasy experience that was held almost throughout the movie and was amplified by the group of tweens in my theater that shrieked a few times throughout the film.
Rich’s Recommended Viewing:
Opening Weekend – At The Theater – Rent It – Watch It On Cable – Stay Away! – 4/5
What it comes down to is that Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark is a horror flick that is worth checking out when you can but you most definitely don’t have to rush out to do so as the quiet of your own home might add to the ambiance of the movie. The movie takes the basis of fairytales and twists them into a gruesome tapestry of terror and doubt that will have you second guessing any late night sound you hear after the film.