Category Archives: Films based on TV movies
DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK-United States, Australia, Mexico-2010
Directed by Troy Nixey
Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro, Matthew Robbins
Based on the 1973 teleplay by Nigel McKeand
The Guillermo del Toro produced and co-written remake of the 1973 film Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark has all the feeling of a TV movie, just like the earlier film, which was a TV movie in the first place. That’s not a compliment, mind you, it’s a harsh criticism. Watching this film in the theatre, I felt like I could pause, go take a leak, grab a beer and come back without having missed anything. The original film worked because it understood the constraints of the format (television) in which it was played out. Guillermo del Toro and director Troy Nixey have made a horror film that’s too little for the big screen and therefore too big for its cinematic britches.
Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes are Kim and Alex; a couple restoring an old mansion, Blackwood Manor, for a client of theirs. Alex’s daughter, Sally, is staying with them after her mother forces her off on Alex to look after her. The child soon becomes the target of a horde of nasty little nocturnal creatures that want her for their own and will stop at nothing to have her. The creatures, resembling malnourished rats with human faces, scurry about, sensitive to the light, staying in the shadows and allowing only glimpses of them from the corner of the eye. They whisper Sally’s name in the darkness, beckoning her, luring her. It all sounds like pretty scary stuff, right?
Well, no, not really. Besides having the feel of a TV movie, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark feels like a reject from the Disney factory. I’m surprised they didn’t make Sally’s character older and cast Miley Cyrus. I’m also surprised that I didn’t see Robin Williams name in the credits as the voice of the creatures. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is a major disappointment from del Toro, the man behind the lens for The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth. If this film had been made by a lesser name it would have stood as a failed experiment. Coming from del Toro and crew, it’s a failure, period.
Appropriately set in Providence, RI as that was the home of H.P. Lovecraft who wrote the story “The Rats in the Walls” which apparently inspired this film. Though the short story was set in England not Rhode Island.
The runes carved into the stone over the furnace that the creatures live down spells out “Be Afraid” in Elder Futhark.