Don’t Be Afraid of The Dark is a film about a bunch of spider monkey things that live under a really nice house and want to eat children’s teeth. Seriously. Remember the similarly named 90’s Nickelodeon show Are You Afraid of the Dark? Yeah, that show is scarier than this turd of a movie. Don’t let the “Guillermo Del Toro Presents” tag fool you. Remember Quentin Tarantino Presents: Hostel? I rest my case.
I’ll start with the positives. Visually, the film is gorgeous. Some of the shots are breathtaking in their beauty, and the house is properly creepy. I loved the scenes where the musical merry-go-round in the girl’s bedroom was running. The score for the film is also fantastic. While the music did little to provide tension, it was wonderfully composed and a joy to listen to. Finally, there was one good scare in the movie. You’ll know which one I’m talking about if you see it. The scene was reminiscent of a famous scene from The Sixth Sense. I knew it was coming, but I still jumped out of my seat. The film certainly had some redeeming qualities that elevated the experience above being completely miserable. However, it wasn’t scary. And that’s what is most important about a horror movie.
The visuals do a decent job of creating a creepy atmosphere, but the film is more laughable than scary. I read a review that had a line that I felt perfectly summed up the film for me, “A movie painted in oils but written in crayon.” The creatures in the movie are a complete joke. Did the filmmakers really think that these tiny fairy things were going to scare people? And not only that, but they can talk, and everything they say is completely awful. They say things like “Come to us Sally. Be our friend” and “She’ll come back. They always do.” To top it all off, they talk in that cliche raspy whisper that has been driven into the ground over the years and lost its scare factor. The monsters completely ruin the film for me. I found myself laughing every time I saw the stupid things, which is bad for a film that’s trying to pass off as legitimate horror.
The other factor that ruined the movie for me was the girl that played the main character. There’s just something about her acting that irked me the wrong way, which in turn led me to cheer every time her life was in danger. I also found it funny that the demon monkeys managed to hospitalize a large man, but didn’t even so much as scratch this little girl, whom they terrorized many times over the course of the movie. Katie Holmes is as useless as always. She may be pretty, but that doesn’t make tolerating her stiff acting any more bearable. Guy Pearce, an actor who I usually love, plays the whiny father that winds up doing absolutely nothing in the film. His performance was fine, but the writing in this movie is atrocious. Another example of a good actor wasted on awful material.
While it wasn’t a complete waste of my time, the film really did nothing for me. The atmosphere was creepy enough that given a different creature and less cheesy lore to the story, this movie could have turned out to be really good. Unfortunately, Guillermo Del Toro’s production does nothing to boost this flick above mediocre summer trash. Avoid this one unless you’re really curious.
2/5 Baby teeth