Blu-Ray Review: Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark



Rating: R for violence and terror.
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: January 3, 2012
Director: Troy Nixey
Stars: Guy Pearce, Katie Holmes, Bailee Madison.

Technical Details:

Visual: Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC; Video resolution: 1080p; Aspect ratio: 1.85:1; Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Guy Pearce as "Alex" (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

While architect Alex Hurst (Guy Pearce) and his new girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes) restore their Gothic mansion’s period interiors, Alex’s young daughter Sally (Bailee Madison) can investigate the macabre history and dark corners of the estate. Spurring Sally’s investigation are the voices-rasping whispers who call out to her from the basement, who promise her understanding and friendship, who are so very hungry and would like to be set free. When Sally gives in to her curiosity, she opens a gateway into a hellish underworld from which an army of beady-eyed, sharp-clawed monsters emerge, small in size but endless in number. Confronted with the horror that now threatens to taker her life and destroy her family, Sally desperately tries to warn the whole house, but there’s just one problem: no one believes her.

My Snapshot Review (**)

All in all, “Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark” is intermittently watchable and boring, slightly thrilling, never scary, and when thought about and considered, a bit nonsensical and goofy. But, I had a fair amount of fun with it. Pearce is nothing special sadly and Madison does what she can. Frankly, Katie Holmes is not as terrible as people would perceive and shares nice moments with her young co-star.

Truth be told though, those choosing to watch “Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark” are not looking for mother/daughter-style chemistry. They want scares. They want terror and shock. They want that emotional journey from fear and anxiety to calm and peace. In a film that promises those things, the failure to deliver is a pretty damning indictment that “Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark” is too reserved to scare much of anything or anyone.

Katie Holmes as "Kim" (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

The Extra Content:

Don’t Be Afraid…The Documentary (20:50):

  • Split into three chapters as “The Story”, “Blackwood’s Mansion”, and “The Creatures”, essentially this is really one 20-plus minute making of documentary which attempts to focus on the origins of the story and producer Guillermo del Toro’s long unending desire to make this a feature film; adapting it from the 1973 TV movie which attained cult status amongst horror fans through the years. “Blackwood’s Mansion” delves into the set design and “The Creatures” handles the little buggers running amok in and around Blackwood’s Mansion with some interesting details on how they were created, animated, and stylized.

Conceptual Art Gallery

Theatrical Trailers: include In The Land Of Blood And Honey, The Rum Diary, Drive, Hostel Part III, London Boulevard, and The Woman In Black.

Bailee Madison uncovers a secret... (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Delayed, largely because of the shuttering of Miramax Films, “Don’t be Afraid Of The Dark” was seemingly lost in the shuffle of studio machinations, landing in theaters at the end of the 2011 Summer Movie Season. Director Troy Nixey borrows liberally from the style fashioned by producer Guillermo del Toro and while the film has aesthetic beauty to it, the film delivers all of the tension of a carnival funhouse ride. The performances are largely unremarkable, but as the film discards logic and common sense, it becomes goofy fun and holds together just enough to keep you intrigued. Still, the film is, in its totality, underwhelming and will serve well for those interested as a rental. There is next to nothing featured here (no commentary of any sort?!!?) that would justify a purchase, even for curious horror fans.

SHOULD I RENT IT?!?! – Why not?
SHOULD I BUY IT?!?! – Don’t bother.

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My love of film began at the age of 7 when my parents not only gave me a television, but HBO to boot. My first theatrical experience was "E.T." My first movie cry came with "Old Yeller". "The Usual Suspects" made me decide to make movies and film writing a priority in life, even knowing the twist beforehand. My passion for film, music, and pop culture in general can be isolated to my youth. My love for film took root in high school. Above all else, movies and art, in any form, exist to entertain and I remain much more interested in how art affects others, more than with myself. But I love the conversation and to have a chance to share my thoughts and be a part of the community here is a unique and enriching experience.