Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Don't count on your Parents and Don't be afraid of the Dark
There seems to be a lot of mixed feelings out there about the Guillermo del Toro produced Don't be afraid of the Dark. I for one loved it and it was just what I needed, despite the presence of two things I hate about modern horror films: CGI and Katie Holmes.
Oh I am sorry Katie. You are actually not that bad here, and it only took me about 20 minutes to quit thinking about how Tom Cruise and friends have brainwashed you. Girl does not look happy. Too skinny, sunken eyes, pained expression: it works perfect for this film!
Don't be afraid of the Dark is a remake of a 1973 made for T.V. film. Guillermo del Toro claims it was one of the scariest films he had ever seen. I have never seen it, but reading the description of the original gave me chills. It has jumped to #1 on my "must see list." Sally, an adult woman in the original film, is now a little girl, played by Bailee Madison. Dumped on her Father (Guy Pearce) and his young girlfriend (Holmes), Sally is hopped up on anti-depressants, forced to eat a gluten-free diet, and basically just pissed at the world. She also gets the very real feeling that she is not wanted. Her busy Father is trying to remodel a Rhode Island mansion with the hopes of getting it on the cover of "Architectural Digest." Mom is totally absent, heard only over the phone dismissing her daughter to go to a party. The only one who seems to pay attention is Kim, Dad's new girlfriend. It is hinted that Kim had a rough childhood herself, so perhaps she feels a connection with Sally. Sally begins to explore mansion, which once belonged to an Artist named Emerson Blackwood. Blackwood disappeared many years ago, along with his young son. In the prologue to the film we see why...
The things that were haunting Blackwood soon begin to haunt Sally. Although at first she is fascinated by the creatures that call out her name from the basement, she soon realizes that being friends is the last thing on their minds.
God they are ugly little buggers. Reminds me of my cat after rubbing his face in catnip. The creatures are Homunculi, better known as goblins or really nasty little fairies. They need a soul, and Sally's is the perfect fit. They begin to pursue Sally, and despite a lot of evidence to the contrary, the adults don't believe her. Dad thinks she is having a psychotic breakdown. I would be having a psychotic breakdown as well if these ugly little suckers ambushed me in the bath!
One frustrating thing about this film is how long it takes the adults to wise up! One thing I liked about Insidious is that the parents GOT THE FUCK OUT! Not in this case, but it is classic del Toro. Someone wrote that being a child in del Toro's world is never easy. All is horror. My own childhood was quite wonderful, but my firm belief in Monsters meant that I was always scared. Parents don't want to believe that there is a Monster in your closet, despite that fact that everything in your being tells you there is.
Don't be afraid of the Dark is Lovecraft scary. I didn't read Lovecraft until I was an adult but my childhood self would have totally have got it: The universe is a big, bad, scary place and things far more powerful than ourselves might be out to get us. Pretty much the message of this film. The ending is unexpected and chilling, with no question left as to who the real victors are. The film is beautiful and the performances are excellent. The CGI is a little annoying, but luckily used sparingly. I loved this film. It is like a nice warm blanket for horror fans to wrap themselves up in.