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Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
(2010)

Guillermo Del Toro-produced remake of a 1970s TV movie. In terms of production design and tone it bears the distinct marks of his shepherding influence, but unfortunately it lacks the thematic resonance or depth of his similar-at-a-glance "kids encountering sinister worlds" films Pan's Labyrinth and The Devil's Backbone. There's a vague reference to a deal between the menacing creatures and a Pope to underline the Del Toro's Catholic background, but more time should have been spent making their actions and mythology consistent. Troy Nixey’s film is most effective in the opening stages, sketching out the relationships between Sally, her dad (Guy Pearce, called on to ignore events until it is too late, as is often the case in these movies) and his partner Kim (Katie Holmes, good).

But as the creatures take centre stage the plot mechanics become increasingly tired, and the plot holes develop into chasms. The creatures susceptibility to light seems to fluctuate according to the demands of the scene, while their requirement for someone from the human world to increase their numbers periodically seems at odds with the prologue (where the previous owner of the house is attempting to rescue his son; why would they even enter into a dialogue with him if they already have their prize?) And the adults take no notice of the evidence that Sally gathers (photos, dismembered creatures - although in the latter case she doesn't exactly say "Look at this!")

There's a bizarre moment too, where ubiquitous Alan Dale walks into a room and suddenly he and Guy Pearce are sharing a scene like it was Ramsey Street 20 years ago.

**1/2

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