Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole Ashland
Markus Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars
Rated R for violence and terror
Now playing at Century 20 Oakridge Mall in San Jose, California:
Hollywood has officially run out of horror films to re-make. After being subjected to the “A-list” of 60’s, 70’s and 80’s horror films which were remade during the last decade or so (The Omen, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Nightmare on Elm Street, etc.), producers have finally moved on to the more obscure remakes of the B-list, made for T.V. films of that same era. And so comes “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”, a horror film which gives new meaning to the word BLAND!
There are three big problems with this film:
1. The Story: The storyline follows a creepy, socially awkward and highly medicated little girl (aren’t we all), sent, by her mother, to live in an obviously haunted house (that nobody in their right mind would attempt spending the night in) with her father and his new wife. Little does everybody know that there are creepy gerbil looking things living beneath the furnace in the basement; a basement that has been walled off for an obvious reason nobody in the movie can quite understand until (you guessed it) it is too late. Moving right along, when the scared little girl finds out about these evil hamsters (which menacingly whisper her name throughout the night), instead of being scared off, she is intrigued by these killer rats (or whatever). And when people begin dying after going down into said basement, she does what every one of us watching would do, she ventures down to the basement (at midnight) and tries to play with them. Needless to say, there are potholes galore here. Plus, when talking about a film where the house and the zombie mice (as you can tell, I really didn’t know what to make of the monsters in this film) are not as creepy as the main protagonist, it is almost a given that the audience will find it impossible to root for anyone of these characters to survive to see the nonsensical ending.
2. The Performances: Katie Holmes (Batman Begins) gives her usual blah performance as the weak willed step-mother and Guy Pearce (Memento) gives a performance that says to the audience that “I am only here to cash this paycheck and then I will be on my way”. The child actress, Bailee Madision (Just Go With It) however, plays the creepy little girl role to a T. The only problem is that I don’t believe this little girl was meant to be creepy at all.
3. The Lack of Horror: Not to say that there isn’t any suspense here, because there is (along with a score which beats the audience over the head proclaiming that a scary scene is approaching). It is just too bad that these moments of suspense are all crammed into the first half of the film, leaving the latter half simply a series of faux suspenseful scenes with no payoff. Seriously, after the first half an hour you can leave. Another problem here is that once the monsters (part rat/part hamster, part gerbil, part Stuart Little on steroids) are seen, ALL (and I mean ALL) suspense is lost, as the movie reverts back to its campy origins. And don’t get me started on the filmmaker’s explanation onto why the monsters in this film seem to have a fetish for human teeth. NOTHING ABOUT THIS MOVIE MAKES ANY SENSE! Ok, so here is a riddle for you. If you go see a scary movie that contains pretty much no scares, then what does that make you? Answer: $10.50 poorer.
An unfortunate rule when director turns producer: When I see an upcoming trailer for a film that looks like it could be something that would intrigue me and at the end it says (in large font) “PRODUCED BY insert big name director here”, my heart sinks. Only because, most of the time, if a film is produced by a big name director (in this case Guillermo Del Toro), but not directed by said director, then the film is more than likely trash. And what director Tory Nixey (who, not surprisingly, has directed nothing of note) gives us here is a film with some cinematography that looks like a million dollars, a scary movie that isn’t scary and a bunch of suspense with no payoff. As I said before, TRASH. And for all of those who wish to oppose this theory of mine, I would ask them this: If said big name muckety-muck director has a movie idea that is soooooooo great, then why would he get someone else to direct it?! Answer: Maybe because the idea wasn’t so great to begin with. And sadly, this may be one of the oldest bait and switch techniques used in Hollywood today to get your money.
Final Thought: In a twisted turn of events, the only time I was truly afraid when watching “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” was when I checked my watch and realized (to my dismay) that I still had another hour left of the film to watch. So, as the credits rolled, the only real emotion this remake brought forth was one of déjà vu; or a solemn reminder of how below average the original film was. In the end, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” is (at best) a laughable waste of time.