Sunday, 9 October 2011

REVIEW: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

Or more apt, Be Afraid Of Katie Holmes ....

Del Toro producing? Horror? Little kids? Could this be The Orphanage again? Fingers crossed and jumping up and down I began to watch the film. Only to be thoroughly disappointed and at one point even fell asleep.

The story is about a little girl living with her Dad in a new home with his new girlfriend. There are some clear family troubles with the daughter not really wanted by either parent and poor old Katie Holmes trying to be a mum. During the course of this there are these tiny little critters living underneath the house and they seem to pop up causing mischief which then turns a bit more serious as blood starts to be shed.

The main problem with this film is that it's as confused as Michael Jackson's kids. It's as much for adults than Gremlins was (which was also a 15 certificate), which everyone saw as a kid. These little blighters are even scared of light ("Bright light! Bright light!") and then it tries to take this weird, cutesy thing of these rather unassuming little toy soldier type monsters and make them really, really scary. When in all honesty, if you had any kind of weapon, even a big shoe, you'd probably kill them all in one swoop.

The little girl does well, even with such an annoying face and the stereotypical metaphor for these creatures being the obstacle to overcome to live a happy family life falls flat on it's face after the final scene, which in all honesty, doesn't really make sense. I wish I could say more about the film, but truth be told nothing really happens, it's the girl getting more and more perturbed by these strange little monsters that want to drag her to some weird kind of hell. All the fairy tale type notions (with the inevitable half-way 'reveal' of the history of the creatures) are a bit of a mixed bag and there's no real jeopardy to really keep you on the edge of your seat. It really is a shame that Katie Holmes just can't break out as an actress, but she is so amazingly average in this film that you can't help but wonder if you're just watching someone pretending to act. It's also confusing who you are rooting for and who the protagonist is, is it Holmes or the little girl? They're kind of against each other but not really? Who is the hero?

Director Troy Nixey's debut feature film should be wowing the audience, but instead it feels like a half-hearted effort and with Del Toro's name splashed over it all, it's a shame that the failure will most likely fall onto him rather than Nixey. This film is instantly forgettable and about as scary as realising you've forgotten to pack a pair of pants on your holiday. Do yourself a favour and forget Del Toro had anything to do with this film and keep those expectations low - you'll need it.

Rating: 4/10

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