In Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, a young girl named Sally (Bailee Madison) moves cross-country to Blackwood Manor, a Gothic estate her architect father (Guy Pearce), and his interior decorator girlfriend (Katie Holmes) are renovating. Soon after arriving, Sally begins to hear eerie voices coming from tiny creatures in the mansion's basement, and what follows is a pretty formulaic approach to a horror film — there's a house with a dark history, an all-too-knowledgeable groundskeeper, and a child whose fears are written off by the adults around her. The story feels all too familiar, and you can pretty much guess what's going to happen every step of the way.
The film is a remake of a 1970s made-for-TV movie that producer and cowriter Guillermo del Toro cites as the scariest movie he ever saw as a child. It's hard not to expect a unique take on a haunted horror film, given the fact that del Toro created such a vivid imaginary world in Pan's Labyrinth. Instead we get a lot of clichés, and one of the only deviations from standard horror movie fare — an intricate mythology surrounding the creatures — emerges as more confusing than scary. To find out more about why del Toro's monster's failed to make my skin crawl, just read more