[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B007C17YLI][/pullquote] Secretly, most loath being stuck in the dark, no matter how old or young. Guillermo del Toro takes the audience back to childhood with memories of monsters under the bed in his version of Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark. Children of the past and present will remember those quiet moments spent under duvets trying not to shout for their Ma or Pa. The film is loosely based on a group of crazed tooth fairies, who seek young children’s teeth to satiate their hunger. Toro uses his eccentricity and talent at creating gloom and mysteriousness in a childlike fashion, similar to previous projects such as Pan’s Labyrinth.
Set in a eerie Manor that is under renovation in the country, Sally (Bailee Madison), a young girl, finds herself flown over to her father Alex (Guy Pearce) and his interior designer girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes). Her high flying mother no longer wanting the responsibility and commitment of a child. Being in a new area with strangers including her father, brings Sally to turn to the house and the voices she begins to hear…new potential friends, or are they?
The setting is perfect for Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark’s plot, creating the illusion of loneliness, darkness and isolation. With long winding corridors, and huge heavy curtains blocking out light, the mansion fulfilled the requirements and the vast land creates the seclusion Toro needed to instil fear. The plot however lacked the terror I was certainly looking for. He created a storyline that sat middle of the fence of both child’s play and adult horror. Preferably he should have taken it a step further and tormented the audience. In some places the plot dragged, so much of it was based on building the loneliness of Sally that it stepped into the realm of boring, instead of entrancing. It felt like it needed to be taken that extra mile to make it worthwhile, instead it bordered on typically average. Average seems to be Hollywood’s expectation level these days.
Bailee Madison who was casted as Sally, and looks uncannily like Suri Cruise (Katie’s daughter) captivated the audience throughout Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark, more so than Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce. She had a certain air and maturity that is unusual in children, maybe not so much in child actors. She made the audience want to reach out to her, protect her as children should be protected against the evils of this world. Her apprehension gave the film authenticity, one of the only reasons I liked it.
However Katie Holmes fell into the trap familiar to some actors, for example Matthew Mcconaughey. The trap being repeating the same style and characterization in every film. There’s no doubting her ability at acting like the confused, tense, and tortured women but surely there should be some adaptability with these skills. Guy Pearce, despite having an attractive look failed to simply act, it felt as though he was just going through the motions. In simple terms, it lacked passion.