Usually I just talk about the movies here from my own perspective. That’s how this works. But when I watched “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” I was not alone, and the reactions of myself and my girlfriend were very different. With this in mind I must lay out both sets of opinions to give a full view.
First we will talk about me, because I’m writing this.
This movie is a lot like a robot playing the violin. Technically it’s perfect, but not an ounce of soul. The camera work is good, everything looks rich and dark, and it’s a good kind of dark, the spooky kind. The monsters are mostly hinted at and feel pretty creepy. That said I wish they would have kept with the whispering more and less of the generic shrieking, but still they were creepy little buggers.
The acting was very solid. Though it’s hard to see from the trailers but the father here is played by Guy Pierce and it’s awesome to see him back in film. Unfortunately he’s playing the generic haunted house movie father which makes him less likable. He does what he can with the part but in the end it’s a thankless task, but again it’s good to see him again. Katie Holmes felt real good here. I liked her back in the “Disturbing Behavior” day but always felt she stuck out like a bad thumb when hanging around Aaron Eckhart or Christian Bale. Here, in a scary movie setting, she fit right in and I found myself cheering her on. She plays a generic character, as all the characters here are, but she does it well and it’s nice to see her and not hate her.
Also the little girl, played by Bailee Madison, is awesome. She doesn’t exactly act as a kid her age would (case in point, she goes into the dark, scary hole, I’d set it on fire and run) but that’s a script problem and not an actor problem. I found her likable and not at all annoying.
But on the whole this movie had amazing sets, good actors, and apparently a competent man behind the camera…it just felt very generic. It’s worth a watch but it won’t shake your world.
On the other hand…It scared the hell out of my girlfriend. She could barely watch the movie and I thought I was going to have to leave simply to preserve her sanity.
Maybe the movie just failed to faze me and it’s my fault, because at least one person was scared by it. I still think it missed the mark and likely would have been better served by being a horror-comedy like “House” or “Gremlins.” But as a straight up scary movie I can’t help but feel it missed the mark, it’s still good though.