Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2010) [REVIEW]

 

2010? 2011? WHAT THE FUCK?! Oh, this movie was made a year or two ago and was originally going to be released in 2010 but isn’t getting an actual release for a few more days. BUT I FUCKING SAW IT! It was one of those preview screening things and it was bullshit because they stole our phones. They made us put them in these high-tech manilla envelopes and I was nervous they’d see all the naked pictures I have of the dog. Whoops! Before we go any further, I’d like to mention that no, I haven’t seen the original. Why? Because I didn’t really give too much of a shit about it to track it down. I knew that Guillermo del Toro was behind this remake, at least as a producer and co-writer, and it had to do with little goblin creatures. Would you believe that Guillermo would be involved in a movie about scary little goblin creatures? He is! And it’s this movie! As a warning, this one might have spoilers, but they shouldn’t be too spoil-y considering this is a remake.

 

Guy Pearce? What are you doing here, you super stud! You are from Australia!

The film starts in an old timey mansion where we see the assumed owner of the mansion trip his maid on the stairs and then smash her teeth out of her head with a chisel. He offers them to unseen creatures who live in a hole in his basement, but he gets sucked in and is never heard from again. Cut to present day and we see Guy Pearce’s character, Alex, picking up his daughter, played by Bailee Madison, from the airport. They make their way back to the house that he has bought and is remodeling which is, surprise surprise, the mansion from the opening. We learn that the little girl was sent to live with her father in this new house, which isn’t something that the two of them are really all too excited about. Add to that the fact that the daughter, Sally, also has to adjust to her new quasi-stepmom, Kim, played by Katie Holmes. As the three adjust to life together, Sally discovers that there are small creatures in the basement that she can talk to, who seem to want to be her friend. When she unlocks the barrier that has clearly kept these creatures trapped in a hole for 200 years, that’s when shit starts getting serious.

 

Holy shit, remember when Katie Holmes was a “sex symbol”? Then everyone saw her boobs in The Gift? And now she is Tom Cruise‘s zombie? That’s sad.

It starts with Sally hearing these creatures in and around her bedroom, which make her a little nervous. She also finds out that they are afraid of the light, but this doesn’t seem to matter much as they are trying to be friends with Sally. These creatures start destroying Kim’s clothes and stealing small objects, all the while Sally is being blamed with the presumption that she’s “adjusting”. When Sally tries to confront the creatures, their malicious intentions become obvious and Sally begins to fear for her life. With Kim trying to figure out what could be happening, she goes to the library to learn more about the former owner of the house. The previous owner was a famous artist whose last drawings were of these creatures that Sally had been describing. When it comes time to move out of the house to get away from these creatures, enough little goblins gather up to overtake Alex, Kim, and start trying to drag Sally down to their world. In a final effort, Kim frees Sally, but instead Kim is the one pulled down to this world, never to be seen again. Some months later, Alex and Sally return to the home and leave a drawing intended for Kim. The camera then goes down into the basement to hear the goblins talking to one another, and we then hear a goblin-ized version of Kim’s voice explaining how they have all the time in the world to wait for Alex and Sally to come back to be captured.

 

I’m glad they didn’t take the “Technology will find the answer!” approach in this movie and kept it relatively lo-fi feel to it. Just look at that old timey digital camera! That’s digital, right? Attached to a mini printer?

This movie was another one of those cases of having one good thing I liked, and one bad thing I didn’t like. For example, I thought the little girl did a good job, but then we had to deal with Katie Holmes. I enjoyed that early in the movie, the goblins were just shown in the shadows and their eyes were reflective like all those nightvision nature shows, which was cool, but then they were shown too frequently and they ended up being silly looking instead of scary. The few “scare” moments were pretty successful, judging by the reactions of everyone else in the theater. It did seem a little long, even though it was only an hour and forty-five minutes. I walked out of the theater feeling underwhelmed, wishing for something as terrifying as The Orphanage was. Ya know, because Guillermo del Toro was also involved in the non-directing aspect of things. But then I went home and learned a little bit more about the original and…

 

SPOILER ALERT: This is what the goblin’s face looks like. Well, it’s not actually a spoiler, since this is an image from the trailer, you idiot.

This is one of the few movies where doing research made me enjoy it more, in retrospect. The more and more I thought about some of the themes and concepts, the more and more creepy I thought it was. In the original, it is supposedly made clear that these goblins are trying to take their victim to make that person “one of them”. This was never clearly expressed in the remake, but lends credence to why we heard Kim’s goblin voice at the end. Also, in a scene where Sally leaves a tooth under her pillow and wakes up the next morning with an old coin underneath it brings about a new, more terrifying concept of where the Tooth Fairy came from. No, I don’t mean that movie starring The Rock. Those hints at a larger mythology are what really made this movie more than what I had anticipated, and even if the movie itself wasn’t blowing my mind, I really enjoyed the creativity and mythology involved. I can easily complain about not having enough of that backstory as to why these little creatures existed, why they were there, and all that other bullshit, but I know that if I had gotten that information, I’d wish there was more mystery. I might not watch this movie repeatedly but I can certainly enjoy and respect what they were attempting to accomplish.

 

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4 responses to “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2010) [REVIEW]

  1. Pingback: Mama (2013) [REVIEW] | The Wolfman Cometh·

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