Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

Static Mass Rating: 4/5
Optimum Releasing

Release date: October 7th, 2011
Certificate (UK): 15
Running time: 99 minutes

Director: Troy Nixey
Writers: Guillermo del Toro, Matthew Robbins
Composers: Marco Beltrami, Buck Sanders

Cast: Guy Pearce, Katie Holmes, Bailee Madison, Alan Dale, Julia Blake, Edwina Ritchard, Jack Thompson

Most children are afraid of the dark, and while few adults would admit to it, I suspect there may be more than a few out there who are too.

If you’ve ever lain in bed at night and heard things that go bump, floorboards that creak, door handles that turn or branches that scratch against your window, and ducked beneath your covers, then you too could be a Nyctophobe.

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

Nyctophobia is usually characterised by an abnormal and persistent dread of the dark, but given what unfolds in Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark, there might actually be a very good reason to duck under those covers.

Based on the 1973 television movie of the same name, Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark hits the ground running with a terrifying opening sequence which depicts another of our greatest fears and cause for nightmares. In a creepy mansion in 1910, biologist Emerson Blackwood lures his maid to the basement where he proceeds to extract her teeth in an attempt to get his son back from the creatures deep below who have taken him. It doesn’t work, and we presume Emerson meets the same fate as his son.

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

We then fast forward to the present day where we meet Sally Hirst (Bailee Madison), a troubled little girl who’s the product of a broken home. With her mother having no time for her, she’s now sent to live with her father, Alex (Guy Pearce), and his girlfriend, Kim (Katie Holmes), in their new home, the very same creepy mansion. Almost immediately, Sally knows there’s something not quite right about the place and it’s not long before the neglected child starts to feel drawn to the voices in the basement that whisper comforting words, promising friendship and games to play.

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

Although Sally knows there could be danger, she begins to explore the house and the basement. When she realises that what lies down there isn’t as friendly as she initially believed, Nyctophobia starts to set in, and fast! Of course, she has a hard time convincing her father, but seeing how distressed the child is, Kim is willing to listen to her. When Kim finds out more about the history of the house and Emerson, she knows she has to get everyone out before they all suffer the same fate.

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark maintains a truly creepy and suspenseful atmosphere throughout that’s reminiscent of chillers such as The Haunting (1963) and The Legend of Hell House (1973) that both worked within the confines of a gothic mansion that unleashes terror in deadly doses.

Beltrami’s score is classic Beltrami, building and letting go in equal amounts to heighten tension. As events intensify and edge toward a shocking conclusion, I have to say I was well and truly taken by surprise. Pearce and Holmes turn in great performances but Bailee Madison, who plays Sally, is really the revelation here. Portraying a heartbreaking amount of fear and loneliness, she’s like a child with the world on her little shoulders and her performance is what really makes the film.

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