There is nothing like a good haunted house movie. Too bad we donít have many too choose from.
For every Paranormal Activity there is a The Haunting. For every Poltergeist there is a Donít Be Afraid of the Dark.
When director extraordinaire Guillermo Del Toro announced his intention to write and produce an update of Donít Be Afraid cause it scared the Bejezus out of him when he saw it on television many moons ago, the Del Toro fan base cheered in the possibilities with the subject matter in the hands of the creative mind who had his imprint on The Devilís Backbone and Panís Labyrinth. Even the casting of Mrs. Tom Cruise (Katie Holmes) did little to discourage the fan base from circling the August release date on their calendars.
The film, directed by Troy Nixey is the story about a young girl named Sally (Bailee Madison) who goes to live with her father Alex (Guy Pearce) and new girlfriend Kim (Holmes) in a new home that happens to have creatures living in the basement. The creatures in question, we learn, have been asleep for quite a while and are now looking to feast on the human teeth of the new occupants. They call out to the young girl (ďSally, come down to playĒ) and Sally is all too happy to oblige. Of course, when the goblin creatures end up getting nasty, no one believes the little girl. We learn that Sally has a history of emotional and mental issues that discredit her cries and her strained relationship with Kim only adds to the regular checklist of horror happenings that keep these movies unseparated from the rest.
One of the biggest gripes towards the film (and any haunted house film for that matter) is how long the occupants of the home stay while their house is turning against them. If I notice there are homunculi (the goblin thingyís) in my house, I am getting out immediately. If these creatures ruin a dinner party or seem to be a threat to my young daughter, there wouldnít even be time to put a ĎFor Saleí sign on the front lawn before the car was packed and I was on my way. But in Donít Be Afraid of the Dark, they stay in their haunted/infested home in complete denial of any realized events.
To her credit, Katie Holmes does alright in the role as girlfriend Kim. Especially in comparison to Guy Pearce who does his worst work in quite some time. Hard to believe that the same actor who I loved in L.A. Confidential and in Ravenous has dyed his hair black and looks like he just came out of a coma.
There are a few scares in Donít Be Afraid of the Dark, and the creatures are ok (they are not necessarily scary and are total CGI). But the movie considering the talent involved, just doesnít work as either a good horror, a good haunted house film or a good Del Toro resume entry.