Monday, August 29, 2011

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

Guillermo del Toro's anticipated horror movie, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, was finally released in theatres this weekend. The Dark, which was a remake of the 1973 film of the same title, was both dissappointing and comical.

The plot, reminiscent of it's 1973 counterpart, revolves around a young girl (Sally), who moves in with her father, Alex, and his girlfriend Kim – interior designers performing remodeling on an old mansion. Right from the start, the cliché storyline of a stranger moving into a big spooky house, where something supernatural is about to happen, is introduced. While the daughter, Sally, is initially presented as an emo eight-year-old, she is portrayed as being far too mature for her age (popping her own pills and refusing to eat gluten) which is contrasted drastically by her lack of common sense. How many eight-year-olds would really try to be friends with the eery voices that they hear coming out of their basement?

The bratty Sally, and her in-denial-that-there-is-anything-going-on-in-the-house father, make it hard to sympathize with the small cast of characters. The character Kim, however, played by actress Katie Holmes, is the closest thing to a real person in the entire movie – though the history of her character's past (hinted at during the film) turns out to be nothing more than one of several plot holes.

The creatures, oddly resembling those of the 1987 film entitled The Gate, are implicated in the theatrical trailer as being horrifying - yet their role in the film is anything but. The small gnome-like creatures appear to be nothing more than little old men with hunched backs, bad teeth, and cataracts, who attack people with miniscule sharp weapons.  (Below is a picture of the creatures from The Gate, followed by a picture of The Dark creatures):

Their creepy old-men voices are neither necessary, nor terrifying. Though the folklore and historical references in relation to the existence of the creatures is incredibly interesting, anyone in the audience may expeirence déjà vu if they have ever seen del Toro's 2008 film, Hellboy II: The Golden Army. The creatures in The Dark, are clearly based off of their tooth-fairy doppelgangers, which are even less ominous beings who fly around, eat teeth, and are basically more cute than anything else:

In addition, the creatures in The Dark, who supposedly have been in existence longer than mankind, apparently understand the purpose of cameras, garage door openers, and light switches, which they utilize to their advantage. However, these ancient magical beings' lives are surprisingly easy to end as they can be squished or smashed just like bugs. In addition, the creatures appear to have super-human strength; a small horde of about ten creatures can drag a fully grown human to the destination of their choice.

While many other factors contribute to the unbelievablity and comicalness of this film, a major eye-rolling moment occurs at the end of the movie when the solution to the infestation of malicious creatures in the house results in the humans moving away (thereby, leaving the creatures to attack the next home-owners) rather than destroying the creatures or just burning the house down.

While, as typical, Guillermo del Toro's unique vision (rendered in both Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth) is present alongside a beatifully composed score, the movie as a whole is just as ridiculous as the way in which the creatures make more of their own kind (by eating humans and pooping them back out as miniature demonic hunchbacks).

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