It’s never any fun when you get yourself all worked up and excited about a movie only to have your hopes bitterly destroyed.
For starters, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark was not even remotely scary. The jump scares could be seen coming, the little demonic creatures looked more like mutated rats and with the exception of maybe two characters, everyone was ridiculously dumb. Painfully so.
I had thought that with Guillermo del Toro’s name on the film as producer and writer, it would mean this movie would provide in full what it was advertising. He is the one behind one of the most beautiful yet edge-of-your-seat fantasy-horror movies, Pan’s Labyrinth. In fact, there were moments in Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark where Sally (Bailee Madison) is seen wandering about a labyrinth and all I could think of was when Pan was going to show up on-screen. It would have been an improvement on the movie’s part.
Honestly, I don’t mean to rag on this movie but it says something when not even halfway through, everyone in the theatre is talking. Originally, I was elbowing my roommate, who went with me, to shut him up but eventually I just gave up. It ended up being more enjoyable to start up our own MST3K commentary.
If anything Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark was more gruesome and disturbing than it was scary. Within the first five minutes, you watch as Blackwood tricks his maid down to the basement where he trips and knocks her out. Then with a chisel and hammer, he hammers out her teeth in order to feed the Toothbreakers in the furnace that have taken his son from him. I cringed so much my shoulders were hurting for a few minutes after the fact. There are two other disturbing moments in the film but I prefer to avoid spoiling a movie no matter how disappointing it may be.
As I mentioned before, this movie is littered with jump scares. It even goes as far as to play tug-of-war with your expectations when they reuse one particular scare not once, not twice, but three times and on the same exact character no less.
Never had I been so disappointed in a movie. I had been looking forward to being scared to the point of having to sleep with the lights on. I even went as far as to seeing a night showing on Friday night so that we would get out at midnight just to add to the creepy atmosphere. Instead I was left thinking back on Disney films that were scarier than this; or the villains to be precise.
Save your money. You may have a better chance with a DVD release. That way, you can watch it at home with all of the lights off and everything completely silent. Who knows, you might feel a shiver of fear when you do. Or maybe you’ll throw couch pillows at the television at how stupid the parents are.