Don't Be Afraid of the Dark Troy Nixey

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark Troy Nixey
For over a year, fans of famed director Guillermo Del Toro have been waiting for this eerie thriller, which he wrote and produced. Unfortunately only die-hard aficionados will praise him for his goal of creating a genuinely scary film, while ignoring first time director's Troy Nixey's predictable execution of the overly anticipated Don't Be Afraid of the Dark.

The film starts with high hopes, as the audience is startled by a hair-raising prologue and then quickly introduced to a young, slightly troubled girl named Sally Hirst (played by natural born crier Bailee Madison). She's sent to live with architect father Alex (Guy Pearce), and his young interior designer girlfriend, Kim (Katie Holmes), in an eerie, ominous Victorian home they're remodelling.

Naturally, Sally isn't keen on this idea of adjusting to a new life with a father and woman she barely knows. However, she soon discovers that she has more to fear than coping with social isolation, as menacing killer tooth fairies are waiting to stalk and terrify the young girl when the lights go out. Del Toro Déjà vu moments, faux jumper scares and audience frustration follow.

Based on the titular '70s teleplay, the script takes liberties with the original while adding Del Toro's flair for gothic horror. Fans of Del Toro will notice many similar set pieces and plot devices from previous efforts, including a backyard labyrinth and creepy mythical creatures whispering like villains from Dario Argento's Giallo. Unfortunately, when the tooth fairies finally make their CGI presences known, the unrelenting tension and genuine scares end, mainly due to the fact that they look like the half-breed love children of the titular monsters from Gremlins and the demons from The Gate.

Neither scary nor funny, the movie drags from this point as audience members are forced to endure many Trilogy of Terror-inspired attacks on Sally and Guy Pearce's thankless portrayal of the useless father figure, only to be let down by a substandard denouement.

Despite providing a creepy atmosphere throughout, this regrettably feels more like a bloated episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, rather than the terrifying gothic thriller the director and writer were both going for. (Alliance)