Saturday, 17 March 2012

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2011)

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is a 2011 American horror film written by Matthew Robbins and Guillermo del Toro, directed by comic book artist Troy Nixey and filmed in Mount Macedon, Victoria and Melbourne, Australia. The film stars Guy Pearce, Katie Holmes, and Bailee Madison, as a man, his girlfriend, and his daughter, moving into a 19th century Rhode Island mansion, where his withdrawn daughter begins to witness malevolent creatures that emerge from a sealed ash pit in the basement of the house. It is a remake of the 1973 ABC made-for-television horror film of the same name that starred Kim Darby.

The Plot

In Blackwood Manor in Providence County, Rhode Island, renowned wildlife painter Lord Blackwood summons his housekeeper into the basement where he kills her with a hammer and chisel. He removes her teeth and offers them to mysterious creatures down an ash pit within an old fireplace; however, the creatures demand the teeth of children. Blackwood begs for them to give back his kidnapped son, only to be dragged down the ash pit by the creatures.

In the present day, 8-year old Sally Hurst arrives in Rhode Island to live with her father Alex and his girlfriend Kim, both restoring Blackwood Manor to put it on the market for their client Mr. Jacoby. Sally is depressed due to her mother forcefully putting her in Alex's care and giving her copious amounts of Adderall. On the first night of her stay, the melodious tune from a carousel-styled nightlight awakens the creatures in the ash pit. The next day, Sally wanders the grounds and finds the hidden basement's skylight. One of the workman restoring the house, Mr. Harris, warns her, Alex and Kim not to venture into the basement, although they do regardless. Sally takes interest in the sealed fireplace where she hears the creatures calling her name and follows the mysterious voices.

Sally opens the fireplace to meet the creatures and finds one of the old housekeeper's teeth. The creatures quickly prove to be hostile, stealing Alex's razor and shredding Kim's clothes. Alex immediately blames Sally and finds a 19-century silver coin in her possession, which she found under her pillow after the tooth disappeared. Alex and Kim head into town on a business trip and Sally sneaks to the basement to talk with the creatures, but Harris sends her away and tries to seal the fireplace. The creatures emerge and brutally wound him with his own tools and he is hospitalized. Sally's increasingly frightening encounters with the creatures prompt Alex to call a therapist to talk to Sally, who draws a sketch of one of the creatures that attacked her under her bedsheets.

Kim visits Harris in the hospital, who tells her to find the unpublished artwork of Lord Blackwood in the local library. The librarian reveals the artwork, one of which is of a creature whom he describes as being like tooth fairies, which every now and again turns a human into one of their own. Kim races home as Sally is attacked again by the creatures while having a bath, the lead creature being a transformed Lord Blackwood who proclaims the creatures will make Sally one of their own. Kim finds an undiscovered mural painted by Lord Blackwood in the basement, depicting his son being devoured by the creatures. Kim confronts Alex who is more interested in hosting a dinner for Mr. Jacoby and friends. However, he finally realises what is happening when Sally is trapped in the library by the creatures, but she fends them off by using her camera flash to distract them.

Alex and Kim decide to flee the house with Sally, but both are ambushed by the creatures so they can literally drag Sally to the basement for her transformation. Kim awakens and confronts them, cutting Sally free only to get caught in the ropes and her leg broken as she struggles. The creatures drag Kim into the fireplace, as a distraught Sally crushes Lord Blackwood to death with a large flashlight. Alex arrives just as Kim disappears, and father and daughter mourn their loss. Some time later, both return to the abandoned mansion to leave a drawing of Kim there, but a gust of wind blows the drawing into the creatures lair, where the transformed Kim is heard convincing the creatures to forget Sally and wait for others to come, claiming they have "all the time in the world".


The film has received mixed reviews. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 59% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 154 reviews, with an average rating of 5.8/10. Many critics agreed that "While it's pleasantly atmospheric and initially quite scary, the film ultimately fails to deliver the skin-crawling chills of the original". Bailee Madison's acting was generally well-received by critics, who have also praised the idea of turning the protagonist into a little girl, as opposed to an adult in the original film.

The Cast

Bruce Gleeson as Buggy Driver
 Eddie Ritchard as Edwina Ritchard
 Garry McDonald as Blackwood
 Bailee Madison as Sally
  Katie Holmes as Kim
 Guy Pearce as Alex
 Jack Thompson as Harris
 Julia Blake as Mrs. Underhill

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