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Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (+ UltraViolet Digital Copy) [Blu-ray]

3.5 out of 5 stars 236 customer reviews

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(Jan 03, 2012)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Sally, a young girl, moves to Rhode Island to live with her father and his new girlfriend in the 19th-century mansion they are restoring. While exploring the house, Sally starts to hear voices coming from creatures in the basement whose hidden agenda is to claim her as one of their own.

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Fondly remembered for scaring the Tab out of impressionable viewers, 1973's television movie Don't Be Afraid of the Dark stands today as a minor classic of irrational dream-logic horror, with an ending that goes straight for the worst-case scenario. Despite (or perhaps because of) its wonky effects, minimalist character development, and snicker-worthy Freudisms, it knows how to linger into the wee small hours. Cowriter-producer Guillermo del Toro's mash note of a remake is a superior movie in virtually all aspects, really, yet it somehow fails to ping the same whimpering neurons. Director Troy Nixey's film follows the same basic blueprint as the source material--a fractured family (Guy Pearce, Katie Holmes, and Bailee Madison) moves into a dark old house, only to be tormented by a gaggle of tiny chatterbox demons--but with a much greater emphasis on the mythology and back story of the creatures. Del Toro has long proclaimed his love for the original movie, and it's rather fascinating to see the filmmaker attempt to shoehorn his own trademark obsessions (grim fairy-tale origins, spooky little girls, odd Lovecraftian angles, etc.) into the existing material. Still, such Gothic curlicues, however nifty, ultimately end up diluting the solid-state nightmare fuel of the premise. Aside from a few solid shocks and a strong performance by Holmes, this heartfelt redo is unlikely to have the same lasting effect on audiences as the much cruder original. Instead of focusing on the hows and whys, that one just wanted to freak the viewer out. --Andrew Wright

Special Features

Conceptual Art Gallery
The Story
Blackwood's Mansion
The Creatures

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System requirements for downloads:
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Product Details

  • Actors: Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, Bailee Madison, Bruce Gleeson, Eddie Ritchard
  • Directors: Troy Nixey
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Ultraviolet, AC-3, Blu-ray, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen, Digital_copy
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 3, 2012
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2017 (Click here for more information)
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (236 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005TK22CU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,124 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (+ UltraViolet Digital Copy) [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
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.
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Format: DVD
"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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** 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.
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Format: DVD
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.
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Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (+ UltraViolet Digital Copy) [Blu-ray]
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