Written by Matthew Robbins and Guillermo del Toro and directed by Troy Nixey, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is the story of Sally who, forced to move in with her father Alex (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend, Kim (Katie Holmes), is pursued by ruthless creatures who want to claim her as one of their own…
Scary critters lurking in the dark must be one of horror’s most used plot devices. Done well it can produce a truly chilling, end of your seat experience. Done badly it can produce a lot of unintended laughs.
Thankfully for the most part Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark manages to do it well with the cast showing the right amount of disbelief towards the fantastical goings on in their home.
Events proceed much as you’d expect, members of the house are traumatised, someone gets hurt and then the truth behind the mysterious happenings is revealed, setting the stage for the battle of good versus evil.
Nixey wisely keeps the critters in the dark, avoiding the still common pitfall of showcasing an animation or puppet and killing the audience’s disbelief.
Pearce and Holmes are fine, but not great but the casting of Pearce’s former Neighbours co-star Alan Dale as an important dinner guest robbed the film of some of the carefully built-up tension as the audience tittered and commented at the sight of them together on screen again.
Sadly the end of the film is undermined by an unexplained (to other characters) development which would require whopping large spoilers to discuss in depth here.
A decent enough horror film but genre fans will have seen it all a hundred times before.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark arrives in UK cinemas on October 7th.