Shy, withdrawn eight-year-old Sally has been sent to live with her architect father (Guy Pearce) and his new partner (Katie Holmes) in the foreboding Victorian mansion of Blackwood Manor. Feeling isolated and alone, Sally decides to explore her sinister new surroundings with terrifying consequences. Having discovered a hidden basement she unwittingly unleashes an ancient and unholy presence... There's methirig alive in the darkness and it knows her name. Something truly evil and it needs feeding.
With a title that seems to inexplicably tie your tongue in knots, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is likely to leave your tongue well loosened and ready to complain.
It’s a shame really, considering the movie’s plot certainly bears the mark of co-writer and producer Guillermo Del Toro, who has in the last five or so years become renowned for his intricate and excellent blending of fantasy and horror. Del Toro’s expert hand however can only have so much influence over poor performances and an almost ametuer director.
The movie’s premise is fairly straightforward, Sally, the child of divorced parents has been sent to live with her father and his girlfriend who are more interested in the old house they have all just moved into than Sally herself. Sally becomes increasingly frustrated by her boredom and loneliness, thus when she hears voices whispering to her from the vents she doesn’t think twice about sneaking into the cellar and unbolting a hatch, that looks suspiciously like it was put in place to keep something rather nasty hidden.
Sally soon learns that her new friends are more interested in getting their hands on their favourite delicacy, children’s teeth, than playtime and shock of shocks, all hell breaks lose.
The movie monsters are probably the highlight of the piece, as they really are nasty pieces of work, however they seem a little impotent when the poor acting and lack of tension doesn’t allow the movie to fully explore their truly horrible potential. Beyond this the family dynamic subplot – which includes a very badly handled scene at the pond – is obvious and cliché.
All in all, this film is just about worth the ticket price, but do not expect anything spectacular.