The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The dark reveals nothing to fear in Don’t Be Afraid

Sally Hirst (Bailee Madison) is haunted by small goblins that can’t handle bright lights in Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. In this scene, she uses a camera with a large flash to defend herself. Photo courtesy Miramax Films
Sally Hirst (Bailee Madison) is haunted by small goblins that can’t handle bright lights in Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. In this scene, she uses a camera with a large flash to defend herself. Photo courtesy Miramax Films
Sally Hirst (Bailee Madison) is haunted by small goblins that can’t handle bright lights in Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. In this scene, she uses a camera with a large flash to defend herself. Photo courtesy Miramax Films
Sally Hirst (Bailee Madison) is haunted by small goblins that can’t handle bright lights in Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. In this scene, she uses a camera with a large flash to defend herself. Photo courtesy Miramax Films

By Joshua Knopp/managing editor

Horror movies somehow aren’t as scary when they’re actually fairy tales.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, a loose remake of the 1973 NBC television movie, is much more about loneliness than horror. Sally Hirst (Bailee Madison), at age 8 or 9, is sent on a plane alone from Los Angeles to Providence, R.I., from her mother to her father, Alex (Guy Pearce), and his girlfriend, Kim (Katie Holmes). Pearce and Holmes play interior designers who have invested heavily in restoring a 19th century mansion in which they are also living and can’t pay much attention to the child. In her loneliness, Sally turns to the small creatures that live in the basement and eat human teeth.

The movie just isn’t that scary. While scenes of mutilation are shocking and well-placed, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark relies on predictable jumps, not-so-seductive whispers and unscary works of art for thrills.

With the gore mild and the sex implied, the film doesn’t begin to deserve its R rating. In fact, it’s probably a good movie to bring the kids to.

If a pre-teen is a horror fan, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is about the proper level. While not being particularly good or scary, it explores loneliness and ways out.

The inappropriateness of Madison being on the plane alone is heavily implied. It is also intimated that the reason her mother sent her is because the mother just didn’t feel like taking care of her anymore. Pearce is repeatedly putting his work ahead of Madison.

The message of the film, if there is one, is that no matter how lonely one gets, bad company isn’t better than no company. While company probably won’t get as bad as Gothic fairies from another dimension, they are essentially bullies.

The movie is remarkably similar to Guillermo del Toro’s previous works Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone, both focusing on supernatural events that center around lonely children. The Hellboy series is a little different, but that’s not as much his baby as the others. Del Toro needs to learn different stories to tell, or he should probably stop telling them.

Moral messages are fine in film, but if they’re not mixed in with at least a little zazz, audiences are too asleep to receive them. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark doesn’t quite induce snores, but it is too flat to be an effective horror movie.

Final take: A horror movie with no real mojo

Those who would enjoy it: Guillermo del Toro fans, Katie Holmes fans, maybe some pre-teens

Donate to The Collegian

Your donation will support the student journalists of Tarrant County College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Collegian