Grizzly Review: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

There’s s something about those movie monsters that are so small. You think to yourself, “there’s no way I’d let that little creep kill me, I’d just kick ’em like a football!”. I said that about Chucky back in the day, but it was mostly to make myself feel better. I’m not talking about the Chucky comedies sequels either, the first Child’s Play movie was scary. That was mainly because it proved to us that the smaller a movie killer/monster is, the more lethal.

That certainly is the case in Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, where the family moving into an old manor (When is that ever a good idea?) have to deal with a group of creepy little bastards that made me jump a couple of times. Come to think of it, I’ll be mentioning the creatures as creepy little bastards throughout the review. To make it simple I’ll simply call them CLB’s.

The beginning may be a little weird for those not familiar with Guillermo del Toro‘s fascination with folklore involving fairies and the like, but that’s okay. Just roll with the crazy guy in the basement trying to offer bloody teeth to some mysterious and apparently lethal little creatures that hide in a furnace, because all will be revealed before the 100 minute run time is through. The Del Toro written remake of the 1973 horror movie won’t disappoint as long as you try not to over think the whole premise.

Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes play Alex and Kim respectively, a couple that are in the middle of restoring and putting a very historic mansion back on the real estate market. During this process Alex receives his daughter Sally from his ex-wife to live with him and Kim. Sally is a very unpleasant child at the start, but you would be too being bounced around between parents. Sally hates the new house and doesn’t seem too enthused with his father’s younger girlfriend Kim either, but eventually she finds something to do as she discovers some little creatures living in the basement. And wouldn’t you know it – they want to be friends with her…. creepy whispering and all! Sally will eventually find out that these CLB’s have more malicious motives and struggles to get the adults to believe her. It sucks being a kid in a horror movie.

It seems like child actors are getting less and less annoying as time goes on. Bailee Madison did a fine job of making me hate the character of Sally at first, but I eventually warmed up to her as things got worse and worse for her. Be sure to look for her in the upcoming FX show Powers.

I hadn’t seen Katie Holmes in hardly anything since Batman Begins. Apparently marrying Tom Cruise causes you to miss out on reprising your role in one of the biggest sequels ever. I’m talking about that little film called The Dark Knight. Either way, Holmes is back and still looking great despite being a Scientologist sorceress supreme, and she fills the role of Kim perfectly. Guy Pearce is in the movie as the ever skeptical father, who despite all of the madness occurring around him is too busy to believe any of his troubled daughter’s nonsense. It was refreshing to see Pearce play a non-douche for a change because it seemed like those were the only roles being thrown his way for a while.

The real stars of the show are the CLB’s, who look fantastic and succeed in filling me with audience dread every time it seemed like they would pop up somewhere. It slowly faded by the end, but not before I was holding my breath during the under the sheets scene even though I had scene it in the trailer. Check out the trailer above at about 1:23 to see what I’m talking about. It’s one of those moments that I truly love being in the cinema for a scary movie, feeling the hair on the back of my neck stand up as the surround sound makes it seem like the CLB’s are scurrying about all around you. The little jerks reminded me of Gremlins, only smaller and harder to kill.

I give the movie a 3 out of 5 grizzlies. Aside from a couple of plot holes it gave me a good 100 minutes of pure entertainment and a couple scares. It’s rare for any scary movie out there to actually be in theaters without relying on copious amounts of blood and gore to make a statement but Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark succeeded in that.

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