Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

Movies, Horror
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Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
A long-cherished project for co-writer and co-producer Guillermo del Toro, this re-working of the 1973 TV movie that terrified a whole generation of American viewers is maybe a little too close to his own heart. Directed by Troy Nixey in an elegant style that recalls classic ghost stories, it pays loving attention to characterisation, atmosphere and design. Yet there is something academic about its skilfully calibrated supernatural scares – like the lovingly restored late-Victorian house in which it is set – leaving the film looking beautiful yet somehow embalmed.

After an arresting opening, in which the master of Blackwood House lures a housemaid to the dark basement and makes a macabre, ritualistic offering that brings a whole new meaning to the The Tooth Fairy myth, the action flashes forward a century to the present. The modern-day occupants of the house – architect Alex Hirst (Guy Pearce), his girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes) and Alex’s young daughter from his failed marriage, Sally (Bailee Madison) – are drawn in turn to the secret places beneath its light and airy interiors.

The one major change from the ’70s film is that the protagonist, the architect’s wife in the original, is now a child, Sally. Arriving unexpectedly, as her busy and neglectful father’s renovation project nears its completion, the lonely Sally rejects his girlfriend’s friendly overtures and falls prey to the whispering voices of the skittering homunculi who call out to her in the dark, ‘Come and play with us, Sally.’ There is so much here that one admires, one wishes that there was more to love.

By: Nigel Floyd

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Cast and crew

Director: Troy Nixey
Cast: Katie Holmes
Guy Pearce
Bailee Madison