Review of Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

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Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce and Bailee Madison star in this modern remake of the 1973 made-for-TV horror movie of the same name. The story follows a young girl named Sally (Madison) as she moves to Rhode Island to live with her father (Pearce) and his new girlfriend (Holmes) in the 19th-century mansion they are restoring. While exploring the house, Sally starts to hear voices coming from creatures in the basement whose hidden agenda is to claim her as one of their own.

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Movie Review: "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" --

Rating: R (Violence and Terror)
Length: 99 minutes
Release Date: August 26, 2011
Directed by: Troy Nixey
Genre: Horror
Rating 3 out of 5

"Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" is an American horror film that is a remake of the 1973 original film with the same name, which was made for television and broadcast on ABC. It is written by Guillermo del Toro and Matthew Robbins. The director of this film is Troy Nixey, who is best known as a comic book artist. "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" was primarily filmed on location in Victoria, Australia with additional scenes filmed in Melbourne, Australia.

The film opens with a prologue set in the 19th century. Lord Emerson Blackwood (Garry McDonald) is a famous painter of wildlife who kills his housekeeper (Edwina Ritchard) in the basement of Blackwood Manor, located in Rhode Island. He offers the teeth of his housekeeper to evil creatures in exchange for his son, whom the creatures have abducted. The creatures refuse and demand children' teeth instead. The prologue ends with the creatures dragging Lord Blackwood into a pit in the basement of the manor.

The next part of the film is set during the present day. Alex Hurst (Guy Pearce), his eight-year-old daughter Sally (Bailee Madison), and Alex's girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes) move into a mansion in Rhode Island. Alex and Kim plan to restore Blackwood Manor so that their client Charles Jacoby (Alan Dale) can sell it. Mr. Harris, one of the workmen, warns Sally not to go into the basement, which was sealed after Lord Blackwood's disappearance.

However, her curiosity makes her ignore the workman's warning, and Sally enters into the basement through a skylight. Hearing the creatures' voices coming from the fireplace in the basement, she opens the fireplace and releases them, who begin wreaking havoc throughout the house. Alex and Kim go into town on business while Sally goes back to the basement to talk to the creatures. Mr. Harris discovers her and attempts to seal the fireplace again, only to be badly wounded by the creatures.

Sally begins to have additional encounters with the creatures, which become increasingly more disturbing. Alex eventually gets a therapist (Nicholas Bell) for Sally, who draws a picture of the creatures. Mr. Harris tells Kim to find Lord Blackwood's art book in the library, which depicts creatures that look like the ones in Sally's picture. Blackwood's book describes the creatures as tooth fairies, who occasionally turn people into tooth fairies like themselves. Kim hurries home to find the tooth fairies attacking Sally while she is taking a bath. One of the tooth fairies turns out to be Lord Blackwood, who has been transformed. He says that he will turn Sally into a tooth fairy before Kim chases him off. Kim tells Alex about the tooth fairies, but he doesn't believe her at first. He is finally convinced of their existence when he sees them attacking Kim in the library.

Alex and Kim try to get Sally out of the house, but the tooth fairies ambush them before they can do so. Kim prevents the tooth fairies from capturing Sally, but she is badly wounded during the struggle. The tooth fairies abduct Kim instead, allowing Alex and Sally to escape from the manor. They return eventually to place a picture of Kim in the manor. The wind blows the picture into the basement where the audience sees Kim, who has been transformed into a tooth fairy. Kim tells the other tooth fairies to remain in the basement until everyone forgets about them.

Del Toro bases the tooth fairies in "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" on the works of the Welsh author Arthur Machen. He envisions tooth fairies as magical creatures with vile dispositions who live for centuries. The librarian in the film specifically mentions Machen's works, which were also the inspiration for "Pan's Labyrinth", a Mexican fantasy film. The name of Lord Blackwood comes from Algernon Blackwood, who wrote supernatural horror in the early 20th century.

"Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" has generally received positive reviews from mainstream critics, and Bailee Madison's acting is particularly good. The beginning of the film is especially frightening, and the majority of the film was shot in Drusilla mansion, which provides a suitably creepy atmosphere. It is a good haunted-house film that holds the audience's attention until the end. The child protagonist turns into an adult in the original film, while an adult protagonist turns into a child in this remake. This change to the original story has been well received by audiences and critics.