Z’s Review of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is a good old fashioned fairy tale told properly. By that I mean most fairy tales were originally told as stories to scare little children to go to bed. Stories of the boogeyman that were going to eat little children if they didn’t behave over time morphed into the tooth fairy giving money under the pillow for a tooth.

This is why the movie works. It is a not a horror as most people believe. It is a good fashioned gothic story that is meant entertain, thrill and tell a tale. And of this, it does a fantastic job.

While only written by Guillermo Del Toro, the direction has his blueprints all over it. We are anxious at the proper time, we laugh when we are supposed to and we jump when he wants us to. And it is for this reason that I enjoyed the movie. While its not the best movie that has come out this year by any means, it is easily one of my favourites of this genre.

The movie is led by a very impressive performance by its lead Bailee Madison (Bridge To Terabithia) who at the age of 11 has already amassed a pretty impressive career. The movie would not have been as good with her not playing Sally Hurst, the young girl who is sent to live with her father (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend (Katie Holmes) in a 19th century mansion that he is restoring.  It is in the basement of the mansion that a curse that has plagued the property is woken.

Pearce does a great job in a role a few steps below his talent and I would imagine someone called in a favour to get him to do the film. Surprisingly, Katie Holmes didn’t bug me as I was dreading she might. Ever since she became Mrs. Tom Cruise, her brand has simply been off. I go against the norm in that I think she is pretty talented. She did a much better job than Maggie Gylenhall in the Batman movies and with Don’t Be Afraid she brings a great energy to a role that could easily be dismissed in the movie even though its so pivotal and important to the movie.

They give away what the creatures look like early. At first this irritated me because it seems every monster/horror/thriller seems to be following this trend to pretty disastrous results however as the movie went on, it actually enhanced the experience really adding to the narrative.

It is late August and all the last weekend of summer before the long weekend. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark perfectly fills a need for a good date film/evening out at the movies/long weekend filler.  You will enjoy yourself if for nothing else you will be thrilled in a proper way.