DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK
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Producer/co-writer Guillermo del Toro, the visionary filmmaker responsible for "Pan's Labyrinth," performs the neat trick of adapting the original 1973 television horror movie "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" into a tastefully suspenseful work of kid-friendly art, directed by newcomer Troy Nixey.
In spite of some glaring plot inconsistencies regarding such matters as regional location and creature voices, "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" is sure to scare the heebeejeebies out of willing 12-year-old audiences. It's surprising that the MPAA gave the film an R rating considering that, to this critic's eye, the movie is ideally suited to preteen and teenaged viewers.
Bailee Madison ("Bridge to Terabithia") plays Sally, the ten-year-old daughter of hotshot architect Alex Hurst (Guy Pearce). Alex invites Sally away from his ex-wife to come stay with him and his new girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes) at Blackwood Manor, a Gothic New England mansion he's busy restoring.
The spooky house holds secrets from its original owner, an artist whose son's death drove him homicidally insane. Things go bump in the night (and in the day) after Sally goes poking around where she shouldn't, namely the basement. Bailee Madison's compulsive knowing smirk of approval slyly admits her character's playful attitude toward the ominous danger that threatens her.
No one believes her stories about whispering little monsters that haunt her and commit acts of vandalism. There's very little blood in this horror movie built on suspense — think "The Others." "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" is a nuanced horror movie modulated to incur just the right quality of nightmare. You might want to sleep with the light on for a few nights after seeing it.
Rated R. 100 mins.