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Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

Don't be afraid of the dark review

 

  There has been a trend in Hollywood of remaking old television shows into movies, well here we have an old made for television movie from 1973, being remade into a theatrically released movie. Ah the circle of life is truly complete.

 

  Don't be afraid of the dark is a film about demonic tooth fairies. Wait did I really just write that?

Not that demonic fairy

The Rock as a tooth fairy, consider your nightmare fuel refilled.

 

  The movie begins in the past with artist Emerson Blackwood (Gary McDonald) performing a very gruesome act on a poor servant girl in the basement of his mansion to appease little demons that have kidnapped his son. Not happy with his offering the demonic tooth fairies (do I really have to keep writing that?) drag him down into the pit that the fireplace was built over never to be seen again.

 

  Next we move back to the present were little Sally (Bailee Madison) is shipped off by her mother to live with her father Alex (Guy Pearce) and his girl friend Kim (Katie Holmes). Wait a minute Sally's mother is still alive? How did she not contract the other parent dying off screen disease that has taken so many souls from us in both television and movies over the years?

 

  Alex is an architect who specializes in restoring old historical homes to be resold. His current project is the abandoned Blackwood Estate. The trio lives in the mansion during the remodeling process. While exploring the estate Sally discovers that the house has a secret hidden basement.

 

 Sally becomes obsessed with the fireplace in the basement and steals some tools so that she can unbolt the iron covering on the front, but is interrupted by her father. The little demons are able to finish unbolting the iron cover themselves and Sally discovers a plate of human teeth in the fireplace.

 

  Fair warning spoiler's dead ahead.

 

  The rules that the little demons work by keep changing, first no adults see them as when an adult enters a room they disappear, that is until the caretaker Mr. Harris (Jack Thompson) interrupts Sally chatting with the fairies.

 

  As Mr. Harris is replacing the iron covering for the fireplace he is attacked by dozens of the little fairies. Yet after this event when another adult comes in the demons disappear again. The police chalk up his multiple stab wounds (including several sharp objects still protruding from him) as an accident.

 

  Later on the demons attack Sally directly, but when the housekeeper comes rushing in to find out why Sally is screaming they disappear once again. Make up your mind movie!

 

Old vs New Demonic tooth fairies

If this is the way they see tooth fairies, I'd hate to see how they would portray Santa Claus.

 

  Another thing that made no sense to me was how adamant the demons were about destroying a picture that Sally had taken of them. They seemed to have no problem with all of the paintings and murals that Blackwood had made of them.

 

  One of the biggest mistakes that this movie makes is showing too much of the demonic tooth fairies. There is no mystery here, this is the complete opposite of less is more and the film makers went with more is more, which really detracted from the overall effect I think they were trying to achieve. The demons are all computer generated images and while nicely detailed come across more like a rat infestation than a horde of tiny demons.

 

  Sometimes all you have to do to realize that the movie you are making is going to be stupid, is to say its premise out loud, "I am going to make a movie about demonic tooth fairies". See was that so difficult? If you cannot say the premise of your movie out loud without cracking up, it's time to move on to a different project.

 

  The only saving grace this movie has is the relationship that Kim continually tries to build with Sally. Kim obviously had her own issues growing up and she struggles with trying to be the mother figure that Sally so desperately needs. Kim is about a thousand times better as a parent than either of Sally's real parents. Which makes the ending of the film feel even cheaper.

 

My precious

 

  I think that they would have been better off making Kim, Sally's real mother and make Alex the uncaring step father. Bailee Madison could easily pass for Katie Holmes daughter.

 

  One of the things that I was kind of surprised at was the complete lack of using darkness to create a sense of fear throughout the movie. Don't be afraid of the dark just screams out for the use of darkness as a force. Fear of the dark is one of the most primal fears that man is born with, leaving me with the feeling that there was a missed opportunity here.

 

  If they had adjusted one scene in the film (it happens in the first few minutes between Blackwood and his maid) I think that the movie could have gotten away with a PG-13 rating versus the R rating it achieved.

 

  Final verdict for Don't Be Afraid of the Dark 3/10. Skip this one completely unless you are a fan of the 1973 original and even then wait for it to hit television where this movie should have remained.

 

 ~Professor

 

 

 

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