Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark Blu-ray review

  Starring: Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, Bailee Madison, Bruce Gleeson, Eddie Ritchard
Directors: Troy Nixey
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: January 3, 2012
Run Time: 99 minutes

            Based on an old teleplay by Nigel McKeand, Don’t be Afraid of the Dark has been updated with Guillermo Del Toro’s guiding touch. This includes some creative creature design that has a very similar style to many other Del Toro projects, from Pan’s Labyrinth to Hellboy. Although Troy Nixey directs, Del Toro’s visual style seems stamped on the film. Unfortunately, the narrative never quite follows along. Despite some imaginative moments and grand new creature design, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark falls short of spectacular.

            The film follows a child protagonist, Sally (Bailee Madison), which somehow makes the film’s premise that much more frightening as well as fitting. When Sally moves in with her architect father, Alex Hurst (Guy Pearce), she is also joining him at his job. Alex lives with his co-worker and girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes), in a dilapidated Gothic mansion they are attempting to restore. Within the walls of this ancient home lies a secret basement, where Sally discovers an army of small monster who hide in the dark. They long for children’s teeth, and almost seem to be the horror story equivalent of the tooth fairy.

            Like the fairies in Hellboy 2, these creatures feed on bones and teeth. They also have a deeper mythology, which the film forces us to learn throughout the film. At first nobody believes Sally is actually hearing voices within the basement, but soon a series of accidents force Kim to investigate the girl’s claims further. With a little bit of research she finds the answer, though this does nothing to help stop the advances of the creatures once cloaked by the cover of dark.

            The Blu-ray release provides a proper presentation of the film’s strengths, which are all visual. There is also a three-part making-of documentary; covering the adaptation of the story, the setpiece of Blackwood’s Mansion, and the creature design. The special features also include a conceptual art gallery.

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