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Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

The house is too damn big. That was my first impression. It’s not a bad film-especially as these late summer horror remakes tend to go-but still…the size of that house. Who the hell lives there? A major factor in the horror of those 1970’s made-for-television movies was how plain they were. The original “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” frightened the heck out of us kids at the time because those events could have been happening in our own homes. Someone like John Carpenter certainly realized this when he gave us his classic “Halloween” in 1978. Also, why replace approaching 30 Kim Darby with some shuttled back-and-forth by her divorced parents 10 year old? And then wimp out by having  poor Katie Holmes take most of the abuse? No matter…the film is just a rainy day diversion that is better than expected. Guillermo del Toro apparently was just as terrified as I was when he watched the original as a child and put his heart into producing this update(Troy Nixey was given directing duties). CGI little beasties, bottomless pits of hell-fire and a wicked pre-20th century prologue work very well. But it’s also more “Pan’s Labyrinth” than anything else. And transporting that 1973 Polaroid “weapon” into a 2011 film can only be deemed realistic if recognized as homage. Seeing the first movie at around the age of the remake’s young star was a truly terrifying experience. The fate of Darby’s Sally haunted our dreams. This one is just kind of fun.     Grade: C+


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