Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

Static Mass Rating: 3/5

Release date: February 20th, 2012
Certificate (UK): 15
Running time: 95 minutes

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

Cast: Guy Pearce, Katie Holmes, Bailee Madison

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.

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 opens with a terrifying scene depicting 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.

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 she finds out more about the history of the house and Emerson, Kim knows she has to get everyone out before they all suffer the same fate.

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. Yet it misses a few beats along the way. We don’t really learn a lot about the creatures and what actually motivates their hostility, instead the focus remains on the child who is comlpelling, but still I would have liked to have known more.


  • A Look Behind The Horror
  • Character Profiles
  • Interviews with Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce and Bailee Madison
  • Teaser Trailer
  • Theatrical Trailer

Beltrami’s score is classic Beltrami, building and letting go in equal amounts to heighten tension. As events intensify and edge toward a hellish finale, it leaves even more questions unanswered. Nevertheless, Pearce and Holmes turn in great performances while Bailee Madison is really the revelation here. Portraying a heartbreaking amount of fear and loneliness, she’s a child with the world on her little shoulders and her performance is what really makes the film.

Yet with stronger writing, more work on the creatures and some elaboration on the fate of those who are pulled down the basement Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark could have been a true modern classic like the older ones it recalls.

About Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.