Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Don’t Be Afraid of the Remakes, or Thoughts on Guillermo del Toro’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

Based on the 1973 TV movie that writer and producer Guillermo del Toro listed as one of the scariest films of his childhood, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2010) is a moody, atmospheric, yet regretfully uneven update starring Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes.  Guy and Katie play Alex and Kim, a young couple who move into Blackwood Manor in Providence, Rhode Island.  The movie is heavy on the Lovecraft references and it’s reminiscent of Lovecraft’s The Rats in the Walls (1924) except these ain’t your typical New England rats, these are creepy little rat-human hybrids that eat teeth.
Along comes Sally, portrayed by child actor Bailee Madison as Alex’s estranged daughter.  Popping Adderalls like they’re Tic Tacs, she quickly finds a secret basement and an old, child-sized furnace.  Much like a modern fairy-tale, the creatures talk to her in whispers through the air vents like they’re her imaginary friends.  And do I have to mention again that they like to eat teeth?
While Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes may be the biggest stars, Bailee Madison’s Sally is the primary focus, and the story told through her perspective.  This isn’t necessarily the most effective strategy for an R-rated horror movie, and Guy Pearce, while a generically handsome actor, doesn’t generate much sympathy or charisma.  The movie suffers from weak casting that never coalesces, though it’s a very pretty film in which you can see the roots of Crimson Peak (2015).
Filmed in Australia, yet set on Rhode Island, creates a subtle geographic tweak, an otherworldly, different America, far older and more sinister.  Peter Jackson used Wellington to the same effect in The Frighteners (1996).  The music was by frequent Del Toro collaborator Marco Beltrami including Mimic (1997) and Hellboy (2004) but also Resident Evil (2002, and one of my favorite soundtracks).

my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).