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83 of 98 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2011
As I start my review for "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" I must confess one thing: I'm not a fan of supernatural horror movies. While I admire haunted house films like "Poltergeist", I've always found this sub-genre of horror to be painfully dull and its characters to be agonizingly stupid ("The Amityville Horror", I'm looking at you). They usually have the same formula: a stupid, yuppie couple (occasionally with children) buy a house, move in, hear strange noises, and bad things happen. Rinse and repeat. So, going into "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark", my expectations were pretty low. After reading some not so positive reviews online, they sank even further. So is "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" worth screaming for? Well..more on that in a bit.

The film begins with a gruesome prologue shows the home's deranged first owner, Emerson Blackwood, luring his maid into the dungeon-like basement and performing medieval dentistry on the terrified young woman. As he carries out the atrocity, he explains to the young maid that they, the goblin-like creatures known as Homunculi, have taken his son and will only give him back with teeth. As the young woman screams, whispering can be heard all around the room from the sealed up fireplace. Blackwood makes his way over to the fireplace and offers the teeth in exchange for the return of his son, only to be told his offering wasn't acceptable and he is pulled into the fireplace. The basement is sealed and forgotten over the generations.

The movie then opens with a young girl, Sally Hirst (Bailee Madison), moving into Blackwood Manor, the Gothic mansion being restored by her architect father Alex (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes), an interior decorator. Her father is renovating the house they live in, in hopes of having it on the front page of a known magazine. Due to the fact that her mother recently abandoned her, Sally has become a distant child with emotional vulnerability. Although Kim tries to befriend her, Sally alienates herself from her.

One day, Sally hears voices calling her name and follows them -- finding a hidden basement with a fireplace that has been bolted shut. She is drawn toward the fireplace, as she can hear voices that beg her to open it, promising friendship. One day she sneaks into the basement to open the fireplace, but her father stops her before she can get the door completely open. The Homunculi escape, however, and begin to torment Sally at night telling her to turn the lights out.

As the days progress, Kim finds one of her dresses shredded. Shortly afterward, a teddy bear that Kim gave to Sally is found destroyed underneath her bed after she yelled for her Dad having been scared by the creatures. Sally claims that someone (or something) else is to blame for these things, but her father does not believe her and is preoccupied with renovating the house. Kim, however, begins to believe her claims, as strange incidents occur more frequently. But is it too late?

"Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" is over-the-top, melodramatic, and full of plot holes. But, you know what dear reader, I loved every minute of it. This is the kind of movie in which logic is thrown out the door before the opening credits even begin. It is atmospheric in a way that has been missing from most horror movies today. Those that were disappointed by the lack of Gothic overtones in the "Fright Night" remake will be in Heaven here. The sets are gorgeous and the fluid use of cinematography is inviting in a way that makes you feel at home with these gawkily little creatures. The acting here is a bit hit or miss. Guy Pearce is terrible as the father who doesn't seem to care whether his girlfriend or his daughter lives or dies. His performance is bland to the point of sleepwalking through his role. Katie Holmes, on the other hand, is a revelation. It's nice to see a strong, female role in which she is neither helpless nor a shrewd bitch. She thoroughly blew me away and has a few very touching scenes with Madison. Madison makes for a convincingly scared child but her performance is a bit hit or miss. Overall, if you are in the mood for a moody, Gothic treat, you could do far, far worse than "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark".
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2011
"This place isn't safe here, especially for kids." Sally is sent by her mother to live with her father (Pearce) and his girlfriend (Holmes) in an old house that they are trying to fix up. Sally is not happy there and while she is out running around she finds a hidden door. The older grounds keeper tries to warn to stay away. When Sally unknowingly unlocks a hidden evil the house and the family is in severe danger. This movie was much better then I was expecting, but I wasn't expecting much. This has a definite "Pan's Laberynth" feel to it, and that is enough to keep you watching. I wouldn't call this a scary movie as much as a disturbing movie. There are a few little stomach jumpers in this, but most of the time you are on the edge of your seat and waiting for what you know is coming to come. While the movie is tense and keeps you watching it's nothing really amazing. The ending of the movie really makes it better because the movie has the guts to end the way it does and that really changes the way you feel about it. Overall, a very OK movie that is made better because of the ending. Worth a watch though. I give it a B.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2014
What was Gulliermo Del Toro thinking? The director who gave us “Devil’s Backbone” and ”Pan’s Labyrinth” came up with this? (Del Toro is writer and producer while Troy Nixey directed.) The film has received some positive reviews from a few critics, most notably from Roger Ebert. Pay no attention to that. Pay attention to the C- grade from Cinemascore. (Cinemascore is a market research firm that does immediate exit polling of average movie goers. Thus it provides a summary of a real audience’s reaction to a film. Sometimes cinemascore grades are unreliable because the audience is skewed: case in point the high grades given to the Transformers series. But in this case where you have a diverse, relatively educated audience, they’re bang on. And a C- is very low as a CinemaScore.)

Now before I continue, let me address the big issue: why not listen to Ebert rather than me? After all, he won a Pulitzer Prize. That definitely trumps the teaching award I received in 2005. If I may, let me respond by pointing to C.S. Lewis’s comments in his Reflections on the Psalms. Lewis addressed the question of why you should read a literary critic who doesn’t know Hebrew on the Psalms. His answer was that sometimes a lack of specialist knowledge allows one to get at the essentials of a passage, unencumbered by the endless qualifications and clarifications that can come with specialist knowledge. I submit the same is true for my review. Ebert has more knowledge of cinema in his toenail shavings than I have in my cranium. But that fact actually helps me get to the nub of the issue for the average movie goer.

And what is that nub?

Here it is: the film is meant to be scary. It isn’t. It’s boring. And endlessly silly. And a little bit funny. And if a film is meant to be scary but is actually boring and endlessly silly and a little bit funny then the deal is off. It’s like a handsome Italian sports car that won’t start. I don’t care how much you talk about the quality of the paint. I’m not interested.

At this point be warned: spoilers may lay ahead. But if you’re still worried about spoilers at this point in the review then you haven’t been listening to a thing I’ve said.

The film centers on a father (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend (Katie Holmes) who are living in a scary old Victorian mansion when the father’s daughter (Bailee Madison) comes to live with them. Since I forget the names of the first two characters I’ll just call them Dad and Girlfriend. I can’t forget the daughter’s name (it is “Sally”) because the little gremlins in the walls keep whispering it over and over, apparently in a futile attempt to create some sense of impending doom. (The only sense of impending doom I felt related to the growing realization that I had wasted twenty bucks on tickets and popcorn.)

Sally wanders the large, scary home and discovers a basement with a hearth that has things in it which keep doing the above mentioned whispering. When, eventually, you see the things doing the whispering you immediately wish you hadn’t. They look like little 8 inch ugly humanoid creatures with very bad teeth. As the film shamelessly depicts the little nasties running around wreaking havoc you begin to realize this is going to be about as scary as “Gremlins”.

For me things definitely took a turn for the worst at the dinner party. It is meant to be an occasion for dad, an architect, to show off his handiwork of restoring the mansion to Architectural Digest. But as the guests arrive Sally has a Polaroid camera (yes a Polaroid. Did she buy it on Ebay?) and she takes a picture of one of the gremlins peaking out of a green plant. That reminded me of the opening scene of “Toy Story” where the toy soldiers are staking out the birthday party downstairs and providing reports back to Woody and the gang. And once I started thinking of that I went on to think how I wish Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and the rest of the gang were here to battle Sally’s gremlins. Now that would be entertaining.

Anyway Dad doesn’t believe Sally about the gremlins. But Girlfriend suspects something might be up. So she goes to the local public library to do some research. I don’t know about your local public library, but mine has primary colors, giant choo choo train decals, and a community announcements billboard. The local branch Girlfriend visits looks like the reading room from the Vatican Library. Impressive.

While at the library Girlfriend discovers that these little gremlin creatures have been stealing human beings for centuries. But then at some point in the 900s the Pope, yes the same Pope that uses the real Vatican reading room, signed a treaty with the gremlins so that they would agree to take human teeth rather than human lives to satiate their desires or needs or whatever.

Wait a minute. Don’t visualize that or you’ll burst into laughter. Am I supposed to envision an entourage of 8 inch gremlins arriving at the Vatican for a formal document signing ceremony? Like I said, this film is unintentionally funny.

As events unfold Dad, Girlfriend, and yes poor Sally, all act very stupid. They might as well have covered themselves with honey before venturing into the Hundred Acre Wood. Don’t be surprised when you find Winnie the Pooh gumming your ankles. You deserve it.

In the end Girlfriend is whisked away to certain doom down the hearth in a scene that reminded me of the ending in another recent film, “Drag me to hell.” Sally and Dad are spared however. Ironically their survival created the biggest chill of the entire film: the possibility of a sequel.
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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon January 3, 2012
A rule to live by: If you find yourself in a house that's haunted, get out of the house. But people will persist in dismissing those ominous signposts, those telltale clues. In horror pictures, children tend to be more savvy than the grown-ups, and they normally heed those twitches of primordial unease. But I guess little Sally, sullen and desolate and unbelievably unhappy, is the one exception. I think that Bailee Madison, who plays Sally, manages to construct an intriguing character. Madison isn't cutesy-ootsy in that obvious Hollywood kid actor way, and this makes her refreshing. It's not her fault the screenplay has her reacting unbelievably to what unfolds in the spooky mansion.

DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK is based on the original 1973 teleplay which starred Kim Darby, and it supposedly had a lasting impact on a young Guillermo del Toro. Del Toro co-produces and co-writes this 2011 reimagining, except that one wishes he'd directed it as well. Because while you have to credit this retelling for its moody cinematography and its creepy gothic vibe and its stab at psychological horror, you also condemn some of its choices and its lapses in logic.

How would you feel if you were a little kid and one neglectful parent passes you to the other? Sally, relocating from the warmth of Los Angeles to the depressing climate of the east coast, scorns her father's welcome, ignores his girlfriend Kim's (Katie Holmes) friendly overtures. Sally retreats into her own little world.

There are whispers of the horror lying dormant in the Blackwood manor (also called Fallen Mill), disquieting rumors surrounding the mad artist who had lived in it decades and decades ago. Today, Sally's father (Guy Pearce) intends to restore the Victorian manor with the notion of then selling it for huge profits. Guy Pearce has a thankless role, playing not only an inattentive father but also an oblivious observer who grows only more unlikable as the film progresses. I was seriously wishing unfortunate things to befall him.

You can't blame Sally for wanting to make friends. But these particular friends? Some may admire her pluck in braving the dark areas of the house, but I question her decision to cosy up to the things with the sibilant voices and who dwell, trapped, behind a furnace grate in that sealed-up basement. These skulking things don't exactly come off like cute Smurfs. When something calls out my name in a goosebumpy hiss and then goes skittering under the floorboards, I am not charmed. I am alarmed like a mother, and so check out my dust as I promptly skedaddle out of the house. (Again, if you find yourself in a house that's haunted, get out of the house.) When these creatures caress Sally's name over and over and promise to be her friend, she lets them out the grate.

The film opts for that creeping psychological horror in which the corners of your mind do all the heavy lifting, and that works to a certain extent. Your imagination, manipulated by foreshadowing and score and cinematography, conjures up all sorts of nastiness scurrying about in Fallen Mill's endless nooks and crannies. The creatures, when finally unveiled, actually live up to expectation. They are grimy and toothy and nightmarish enough. Maybe the most frightening bit in the movie has little Sally in the dark and under her sheets, tentatively canvassing for demonic interlopers. It's one of the few cheap "Boo!" moments that works.

But maybe it's just me. Because I don't find these little goblins so daunting, even if they earn scare points for their preferred consumption of children's teeth. And these tooth fairies seem more peevish than truly malignant. They'll cut up a person's wardrobe ensemble and they effectively terrorize the little girl (because Sally does eventually come to her senses). But the body count hardly rises, the payoff is slim. The Rock's take on the tooth fairy is actually more disturbing.

Sally and her father's girlfriend, Kim, become more likable, especially when they begin bonding with each other. Katie Holmes, for an actress whose part doesn't give her much to do, actually performs well; she's a sympathetic character from jump. It took me longer to empathize with young Sally (mostly because I couldn't believe the dumb moves she was pulling). But how do you not feel for a little girl being so traumatized? And, as usual, in a horror movie, no one ever listens to a child. I think we all saw that child psychologist coming from a mile away. Ultimately, DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK falls short of its ambitions, fails to deliver those dark shivers it promised. But, despite its flaws, it's worth watching for the mood evoked, for its elegant visual look, for the melancholy ending, and for Bailee Madison's performance. 3 out of 5 stars for Del Toro's reworking.

SPOILERS now and some parting thoughts:

- Maybe someday, new residents of a haunted house will listen to the sinister groundskeeper's (or maid's or governess') warnings

- Even in dark fairy tales, surely Polaroid cameras must eventually run out of flash bulbs, which is detrimental for when you want to keep nasty light-sensitive things at bay

- I, in fact, question the use of the Polaroid camera of which flash function you have to keep operating; why not, instead, a durable flashlight that shines a steady beam?

- How self-involved is the dad that he allows his small child to have the run of the place by herself?

- After the goblin attack during the dinner party, when her dad and the guests are gathered around a distraught Sally in the library den, you'd think that Sally, to show incontestible proof, would point out that one goblin she'd just crushed with the sliding book shelf. Instead she says, "I took a picture." And then I guess no one bothered to glance at the photographs scattered about the room. That or Sally just takes crummy photos

- When you're on the floor and are being swarmed by goblins that are merely inches tall, the most expedient way to extricate yourself is to GET UP

- Trussed up with the same length of rope, Kim and Sally (in that order) are being inexorably dragged towards the furnace by the goblins; Kim, instead of slicing the rope between her and the furnace (thus freeing them both), opts to cut the rope between her and Sally
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A remake of a 1973 TV movie "Don't Be Afraid of The Dark" is an atmospheric thriller that doesn't quite deliver on the its promise but still manages to be entertaining even if it is a tad contrived. Co-writers Guillermo Del Toro and Matthew Robbins use the original TV movie as the primary basis for this new version (although uncredited the 1973 script written by Nigel McKeand was reportedly based on H. P. Lovecraft's "The Rats in the Walls")altering the dynamic of the original script which didn't use a child as the main focus of the TV movie.

Co-producer Guillermo Del Toro ("Hellboy", "Chronos", "Pan's Labyrinth")and co-writer Matthew Robbins ("Dragonslayer", "*batteries not included")along with first time director Troy Nixey create an impressive looking movie with some strong performances particularly from Baliee Madison. The main problem with "Don't Be Afriad of the Dark" is that despite the impressive production design, acting talent and moody photography "Don't Be Afraid of The Dark" isn't very scary.

Sally (Madison) is a little girl who feels lost as she's shuffled off to live with her father Alex (Guy Pearce)and Alex's girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes) who specialize in renovating older, dilapited mansions. Sally discovers there are creatures living in the Blackwood home that abduct children.

Unfortunately Pearce isn't given much to work with as Alex who primarily comes across as a twit and Katie Holmes character of Kim although written a bit more sympathetically doesn't have much depth either.

The Blu-ray looks marvelous with a nicely detailed, moody presentation of the film. Skin tones are solid thorughout. Blacks are solid throughout and given that this is such a dark, moody looking film that's a good thing.

Audio is very active particularly during the scenes where the little monsters attack with a nice DTS 5.1 lossless presentation.

The special features include a featurette where Del Toro, Nixey and others discuss the challenges of adapting the original TV movie, altering the main focus to a child and then trying to create a thriller where the child isn't in more danger from the creatures.

We also get a gallery of concept art but, given some of the commentary tracks that Del Toro has done in the past, I'm really surprised that Del Toro and director Nixey don't give us a commentary track explaining the often flawed creative decisions the trio of Del Toro, Robbins and Nixey made relating to their approach to the film. If they had stayed with the approach of the original TV movie of making an adult the focus of the film and putting the main characters in peril more often, "Don't Be Afraid of The Dark" MIGHT have lived up to its potential. As it is the film is a handsome looking, atmospheric thriller that's a victory of style over content.

If you must see it, rent it first to make sure it will appeal to you.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 21, 2011
** Spoilers for those who don't want to know what the monsters are in the movie. **

Sally Hurst is unhappy. Her mother gives her to her father, Alex, like a baseball card and ships her far away from her home and friends. She has to live in a huge, gloomy house with Alex and his girlfriend, Kim. Introverted and quiet, Sally is miserable in the new house and just wants to go home. Her only solace is in the hidden basement she discovered while exploring. She hears voices call her name and opens a gateway that has held these creatures at bay for nearly a century. At first, they seem to just want to be her friend. After destroying Kim's things and brutally attacking a gardener, Sally realizes that they just want to manipulate and hurt her. Even after these strange incidences, Kim and her father don't believe her and think she's a disturbed little girl who needs a therapist. Can Sally convince them of the danger before it's too late?

I had the wonderful opportunity to see an advanced screening of Don't Be Afraid of the Dark thanks to Screamfest. I went in expecting a cheesy ghost movie that would be a rip-off of Paranormal Activity or the Amityville Horror that I would not enjoy. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I was completely wrong. The film is actually a modern fairy tale with a lot of suspense mixed in. It starts off like a typical fairy tale with the unhappy daughter, stepmother, and father living together. Instead of an evil stepmother, Kim is actually very loving and the first person to believe Sally when she warns them about the menace in their house. She is more willing than Alex to get Sally out of harm's way even if it means losing money and prestige by cancelling an important dinner party. I like this role reversal from the typical fairy tale story. The reversal theme continues with the menacing creatures. They are fairies, which are typically the helpers to our young heroine, that have an affinity for teeth. Like the Tooth Fairy of my childhood, they leave money for teeth left underneath pillows, but they don't do this out of generosity. Their source of food is teeth and they especially like children's teeth. (For 2 clips with the tooth fairies, click here.) If you have seen Hellboy II, it's as if Guillermo del Toro took those tooth fairies, made them look a bit creepier, and gave them their own movie. Considering they were my favorite creature from that film, I am totally on board with this concept.

Unlike many other horror films, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark relies heavily on suspense and dark ambiance over heavy gore and torture. A couple of scenes are squirm inducing, but mostly due to implication. The very first scene in the film features the man who originally built the house removing his own teeth and the teeth of a maid to appease the tooth fairies and get his son back. Even with this scene and one other that is particularly creepy, this film should not be rated R. There isn't much blood and there is no nudity, cursing, or anything else I can think of that would warrant such a rating. The house is beautiful and the perfect gothic setting for the story. The music by Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders enhances the creepy and haunting feel of the film. The architecture and the art of the original owner of the house are a perfect complement as well. The art was actually drawn by Keith Thompson, who also illustrated Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan series and he creates magic with just a black and white palette.

The film, however, isn't perfect. A Polaroid camera is used extensively throughout the film. This may be a nod to the original version from the 70's, but a digital camera would have worked just as well. Plus Polaroid cameras aren't even made anymore, so it seems irrelevant in a modern film. The creatures' strengths and weaknesses fluctuated a lot throughout, from their numbers to the degree of their light sensitivity to their speed, without any real sense why. It seemed like if they had the same strength they had at the end, they could have easily won very early on, but then there would be no movie. That's not a good rationale and comes off as inconsistent story telling.

Overall, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is a dark and wonderful deconstructed fairy tale. Bailee Madison's performance as Sally is nuanced, mature, and frankly amazing. I would recommend this to fans of dark fantasy and Pan's Labyrinth.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2012
What's it about?

When a young girl is sent to live with her father and his girlfriend she discovers little creatures living in the basement.

Is it any good?

As a fan of Guillermo del Toro, I watch anything he puts his name to (well anything except Hellboy 2), but in this case I was a little disappointed. Co-written and produced by del Toro; this remake of an old TV movie is for the most part a cliche attempt at a haunted house movie that would be more suitable at scaring children as opposed to adults. The only redeeming scares remain within the lighting, which builds a chilling atmosphere as creepy whispers are heard behind walls. Meanwhile, the creatures taunt poor little Sally running around with scalpels bigger than they are, yes, those little light fearing CGI creatures that resemble your Grandpa's ball sack, but less scary. Bailee Madison is excellent as sad-eyed Sally and gets the majority of screen time while Pearce and Holmes are stuck with thin characters and nowhere to go. Even though `Don't be Afraid of the Dark' contains elements of del Toro's signature gothic fairytale imagery it falls short with a thin plot and a WTF ending.

Best bit?

Aussie actor Gary MacDonald gives a strong cameo performance as `Emerson Blackwood'.

Did you know?

This film was rated `R' for "pervasive scariness".....seriously?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2012
Going into this movie, I for some reason thought that Del Toro had directed it, instead I saw in the opening credits that he had only produced the movie and co-wrote the script. So while you can clearly see Del Toro's influence on this film, it falls short of what it could have been. The intro of this film was scary, brutal, and freaking awesome, but it almost could have been from another movie (or maybe something shot to convince them to green light the film). After the intro the pace, violence, and scariness took an immense drop that never really picked up, even in the end. However, I loved the atmosphere and the creatures, along with their creepy actions. What I couldn't stand was the pure idiocy of all the people in the movie.

DBAotD embraces Hollywood Horror tropes to a fault, they include having a shy child for some reason searching through a new scary house alone for no reason without any fear (even gathering tools and opening a rusted shut and bolted ash pit because she hears scary voices wanting to play), parents discounting their child without publishable scientific evidence of the events, and a refusal to leave the house until it's too late. I appreciated the fact that the movie didn't use the current Hollywood Horror cliche of the startle scare which I find very overused and annoying. I also liked how the people could actually fight and kill the monsters (tooth fairies/gnomes). However, I think that the director of the film really missed out on making a great movie by not embracing this facet further. I would have loved if the light (instead of just making the creatures run & hide) actually hurt/burned them. Then when the child starting using the camera flashbulb to fight them, it would have been awesome if the flash exploded the little creatures. They could have completely changed the annoying ending, and the whole tone of the movie for the better. Instead, we had the stupid people doing more stupid things, and the most overused ending in Horror, the potential sequel cliffhanger. Still, I actually enjoyed the movie for all of its faults.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2012
So Mr Del Toro had this brilliant idea for a remake of the old horror classic DONT BE AFRAID OF THE DARK. It is no secret that everything he's involved in is always a success. I've never seen Cronos or Mimic yet but i will soon. He first caught my attention when he directed and wrote PANS LABYRINTH which quickly became a horror/fantasy classic all over the world. I think he really knew what he wanted to do with this movie, so much that he actually choose to find someone else to direct the film, Mr Troy Nixey. I would say this is an excellent start for Mr Nixey. The work they did on this film is amazing.

Here's the intro's plot from WIKI : In Blackwood Manor in Providence County, Rhode island, renowned wildlife painter Lord Blackwood summons his housekeeper into the basement where he kills her with a hammer and chisel. He removes her teeth and offers them to mysterious creatures down an ash pit within an old fireplace; however, the creatures demand the teeth of children. Blackwood begs for them to give back his kidnapped son, only to be dragged down the ash pit by the creatures. In the present day, 8-year old Sally Hurst arrives in Rhode Island to live with her father Alex (Guy pearce) and his girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes), both restoring Blackwood Manor to put it on the market for their new client. They're the ones who'll have to deal with those creepy little creatures and find a way to get rid of them.....

The acting is perfect, the little sally (Bailee Madison) is really good in her role and so as Guy pearce in the father's role. This was also very good surprise to see katie holmes on the screen again, i still believe she is one of the best actress in the world today, her role here is simple but she definitely delivered an honest performance. The cinematography is OVER THE TOP!. The colors and the different visual aspects of the house make me feel like I'm there too. They did a wonderful job with the lights as well, especially the lights inside the house, some of those shots are just gorgeous.

The little creatures are amazing, extremely believable and very well done, i think this is what Mr nixey is good at; animations, they're spooky and they're mean. Loved it. The DVD also have very nice extras on the making of and interviews with some of the casts and crew. There is no gore here, no drugs, no sex or nothing like that. Everything was made to be believable and it worked! A very good "stylish" horror film, will please any horror fan.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Went and originally saw this in the theater and purchase it for a later, discounted watch. I liked it to a degree, finding the idea good and some of the execution interesting, but part of the movie flawed. The advertisements for this really made it seems like it was going to be horror. If it were not for the Del Toro name being attached and knew it was a remake, I might have been annoyed because of what I expected.

A little girl named Sally is forced to move into her father's (Alex) newest remodel and into the life of Alex and his girlfriend, Kim. After hearing a few discouraging things that Kim says when she thinks she's alone, Sally finds herself even more distraught, Feeling unloved, she mopes around the grounds and finds a room that supposedly does not exist. When Alex uncovers it, voices begin telling Sally to come into the basement, that they're her friends. Drawn in, she and her newly acquired family get more than they bargained for.

The acting in the movie was pretty on, and the characters were likable enough. Sally, played by Bailee Madison, plays awkward really well, but I sometimes felt sorry for her parents because of the way she was portrayed. Kim, played by Katie Holmes, was better than i expected, and seemed to actually care about the kid after a while. Alex, plated by Guy Pierce, was done really well in my opinion. He seemed consumed with the house, his fortune sunk in, wondering why people were talking crazy.

There was a lot of the original in the movie with a lot of modernization. That is good in some ways and bad in others. The set-up was nice. I loved that house and the mural and Blackwood's paintings. It had a fairytale quality to it that was simple and yet dark at the same time. The effects were not bad, although I did question some things - like more of "them" not ending up dead. The storyline was simple enough, seemingly creepy at first but then devolving into a "out to get you" flick pretty quickly. It did explain away a few problems, like why Sally did not get hurt a lot worse, but it left some flaws inside as well.

One thing I really wondered about was some of the reactions. Sally trashing a room with picture's mounted almost from the ceiling would have to seem odd, and things like the coin did not really add to the story itself (it did fit into the story, but I thought it might mean more to the parents). Then there was Kim's voice at the end, making me wonder why she was speaking at all. It seemed like they just added it for effect after-the-fact.

All that said, I liked it enough to give it a 3.5 and to round it up to a 4. There were things in it i both liked and disliked, but i watched it more than once to see what was what. The DVD is pretty basic, if you are expecting something interesting. More of a rental, if you are interested.
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