Flick on the lights and call a friend, Don’t be Afraid of the Dark is more terrifying than its reassuring title suggests. Horror movie remakes are about as common as celebrities in rehab, but none really go above and beyond what the original story was and, plainly, they suck. There are exceptions, such as Zac Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake, which added a lot more action and gave us one of the more controversial horror topics, the running zombie. Halloween and The Wolfman were also noteworthy remakes, it’s just hard to do justice to a story that people have loved for many years, especially if you change the story somewhat drastically. But Don’t be Afraid of the Dark completely delivers.
If there’s something I’ve learned in recent years about horror, it’s that Guillermo Del Toro has an amazing handle on the genre. And while in this film he handed the directing reins to Troy Nixey, a comic book artist making his feature film debut, you still see Del Toro’s influence. His creature design is always fun and interesting, and he loves having children fill the roles of the protagonist. He changed the main character from a married woman in the original to a young girl for this version.
Having not seen the original, this movie was extremely unsettling. It starts off with one of the most uncomfortable and flinch-worthy scenes I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get much crazier than this initial scene. Though that was disappointing, the story still managed to keep my attention. One big difference I’ve heard griped about a lot with this version is that there’s not enough imagination. You see the antagonists fairly early, and fairly clearly which takes a little of the scare away. The only redeeming factors in the scary aspect of the movie is how creepily things happen and with the situations the protagonists are put in.
All in all it was a basic horror experience interspersed with Guillermo Del Toro’s trademark look and feel, but at times it felt disjointed and thrown together. While some of the shots and situations might be talked about for years to come, it won’t have you sleeping with the lights on forever. I’d say this would be an awesome date movie, or good for someone who wants to explore the horror genre even more but doesn’t want to have to change their pants a few times while they watch the movie (thank you Insidious).