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ILHM Reviews: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark,
This review is from: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (DVD)
Young Sally comes to live with her father in a beautiful old estate that he and his new girlfriend have been renovating to resell. Sad and lonely, Sally takes to wandering throughout the house, when she begins to hear whispers calling her to come play. After discovering a hidden doorway that leads her down into a long-forgotten basement, Sally learns of an ancient race of faeries that live deep beneath her new home, but once she releases from their rusty tomb, the creatures terrorize Sally and her family as soon as the lights go out in the house!
DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK stands as one of the best Gothic fairy tales since PAN'S LABYRINTH, which shouldn't come as a surprise considering Guillermo del Toro's involvement in the screenplay. Director Troy Nixey has modeled the look of the film after traditional haunted house pictures like THE INNOCENTS, while adding a group of mean-spirited little imps that live off of the blood of children. Their whispers in the dark that beckon Sally to join them are quite chilling, but Nixey takes great care in keeping his creatures hidden until just the right moment... Del Toro's script draws from classic storytelling elements and childhood fears that any viewer can relate to. Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce are each good in their respective roles, but it is Bailee Madison that steals the show as young Sally. Her excitement and terror are heartfelt and real, heightening the emotional impact of the film.
The only room left for improvement for newcoming director Troy Nixey lies in subtlety. DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK is built on a rising terror, but Nixey also includes a few gratuitous moments of gore that the film could do without. They immediately shift the mood from creepy to shocking, which goes against the carefully-crafted suspense that he has developed. Several unnecessary shots use sweeping camera movements and conspicuous computerization to take us through long corridors and into the ventilation ducts where simple dissolves would have been much more effective.
Minor complaints aside, DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK is an excellent entry into the Modern Gothic revival that may even top the 1973 original. Beautifully shot and surprisingly scary, it is a must-see for all Horror fans!
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