Cinema Review: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark Simon Fitzjohn October 9, 2011 Movie Reviews 1916 There are certain times in a cinema, and I am sure you have all experienced this, when for some reason or other you just cannot wait for a film to end. That is not to say there is anything particular wrong with the film unspooling in front of you, it is just that a combination of boredom and a lack of empathy has pushed you past the point of no return. And it is with great disappointment that I have to include Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark in that category, a solid if unspectacular horror offering. Taking a 70s TV movie as its inspiration, Don’t… tries hard to drum up some scares without really succeeding, and although the acting is decent enough there is little or anything to have you on the edge of your seat. Guy Pearce plays Alex, an architect who is restoring a disused mansion along with his new girlfriend, played by Katie Holmes. All seems well, but things go awry when Alex’s young daughter from his broken marriage comes to stay. Turns out the daughter (Bailee Madison) is a perceptive little tyke, and she twigs that there may be more to the house than meets the eye. This entails stories of sacrifices and little creatures running around in the basement, but, as is always the way in these flicks, no one believes her until it is too late. Although directed by Troy Nixey, this very much has Guillermo del Toro’s grubby mitts all over it – del Toro acting as producer and writer, as well as popping up in a blink-and-he’s-gone early cameo. There are some nicely shot scenes and the mansion itself serves as a nice character in its own right. But the problems really stem from the fact that both Pearce’s and Holmes’ roles are underwritten and Madison’s youngster comes across as a bit of an annoying brat. There are some wild changes in personality (Madison goes from hating to loving Holmes almost overnight for example) and there are plenty of genre clichés. Probably the biggest stumbling block though is the ‘creatures’ themselves, which for want of a better phrase just look stupid and elicit more guffaws than gasps. As stated earlier the acting talent on show is very credible, and old-school Neighbours fans will get a kick out of a scene that sees Pearce share time with Alan Dale. But there is far too much drag in the film, too many convenient plot devices and a simple lack of excitement that sees the film stall almost from the outset.