Don't Be Afraid of the Dark [Blu-Ray] Troy Nixey

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark [Blu-Ray] Troy Nixey
Based on producer/co-writer Guillermo Del Toro's recollection of the television movie from his childhood, this attractively shot feature is derailed by an uneven script riddled with spotty logic and underdeveloped characters. The family drama at the film's core has potential and the central performances are decent, but the supernatural threat fails to reinforce the themes of estrangement in all but the broadest of terms. A nervous young girl named Sally is sent to live with her workaholic, status-obsessed father (Guy Pearce) and his unremarkable new girlfriend (Katie Holmes) in a big, creepy mansion. Poking about the grounds, she finds a hidden skylight looking down on a concealed basement room. Convincing her father to explore, they uncover a secret door, with an eerie ventilation grate bolted to the centre wall. Left to investigate by neglectful minders, Sally hears whispers from the vent and decides it'd be a bright idea to open it. Only the laughably stiff gardener is particularly concerned when Sally starts mentioning the voices stopped being playful and started tormenting her in the dark the second they tasted freedom. For no discernible reason internal to the story's logic, the creatures pull pranks to make it look like Sally hates her father's new lover, instead of acting on numerous opportunities to nab her before creating so much sloppy chaos the adults must take notice. A horror film putting thrills ahead of the meaningful exploration of character issues is nothing new, but it'd be easier to overlook if the scares were more effective. The inherent creepiness of being in an unfamiliar space, hearing your father canoodling with a strange woman through the vents, is quickly cast aside for low-grade creature feature tactics. As it is, other than a few moments of discordant violence and one good jump that's spoiled in the trailer, the only thing scary about Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is how stupid both its protagonists and antagonists are. Speaking of the over-seen threat, mini-butt-hole monkeys would probably work better for comedy. Possibly recognizing how forgettable a film this ultimately is, the special features only include a relatively brief "making of," with capable first-time feature director Troy Nixey, Del Toro and the cast, as well as a concept art gallery. You'd be better off re-watching Pans Labyrinth. (Alliance)