Don't Be Afraid of the Dark Review

Let’s ignore that the recent remake of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark starring Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes was sold to audiences almost entirely on the premise that it was “from” Guillermo Del Toro even though it felt nothing like a Del Toro film, because if you’ve ever seen the original 1973 film directed by John Newland, you know exactly why the film needs all the help it can get to attract an audience: it’s so poorly constructed that it never cashes in fully on the tension of its two main conflicts. There’s nothing worse than a horror film that takes a great idea and then squanders it by never actually making it tense or scary. It’s like a mission to the moon where NASA builds the rocket, trains the astronauts, prepares for launch…and then everyone just leaves and goes home. We all know what’s supposed to happen, but it seems like no one told John Newland.

This story of a young married couple who moved into a big creaky mansion wherein the wife (Kim Darby) unwittingly unleashes a bunch of demons that had been contained within a little room in their house also comes with a second source of tension: will her husband believe her when she says there are a bunch of little monsters terrorizing her? That’s really where the mystery ends. After the wife comes to terms with the fact that there are mini-demons out to kill her, she begins pleading with her husband (Jim Hutton) for them to move.

The atmosphere never really succeeds in creating fear, and Darby’s painfully over the top acting can make the overall experience quite grating. Ultimately, the most tension comes from the hapless few guests who wander into the demons’ path before the couple comes to their very sensible conclusion.

DVD Bonus Features

The case bills itself as the “Special Edition” and apparently what that means is that it includes a commentary by Steve Barton of Dread Central, Jeffrey Reddick (the screenwriter of Final Destination), and Sean Abley (Fangoria). It’s somewhat fun to listen to horror fans geek out over a classic, but they don’t have much to say that’s actually interesting.

"Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" is on sale August 23, 2011 and is not rated. Horror. Directed by John Newland. Written by Nigel McKeand. Starring Jim Hutton, Kim Darby.

Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.


New Reviews