Review of Don't Be Afraid of the Dark: Scary Film with Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, and Bailee Madison

by DerdriuMarriner

Fairies epitomize bright fliers. Gnomes inspire the opposite. Blackwood Manor’s restorer, his girl, and his daughter learn that fairies embrace evil in Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark!

Fairies superficially claim good press as inherently beneficent beauties. But they also have their dark back-stories and evil sides. Not being born all-bad or all-good in fact inspires their modified designations “bad fairies” and “good fairies.” Yet a third descriptive possibility involves congenital evil. Intrinsic evil indeed is the option which readers find in the fantasy, horror, and supernatural literature by Caerleon-born Welshman Arthur Llewelyn Jones (March 3, 1863 – December 15, 1947) under the pseudonym Arthur Machen. The last-mentioned interpretation prevails in the fantasy horror thriller film, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, released in 2010 through the creative collaboration of four of the Welsh author’s worldwide admirers:
• Mark Johnson;
• Stephen Jones;
• Troy Nixey;
• Guillermo del Toro.

Fantasy, horror, and supernatural literature written by Arthur Llewelyn Jones under pseudonym of Arthur Machen inspired dark depictions of sub-basement dwellers in "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark":

1906 cover design by Sidney Sime (1867 – May 22, 1941)
The House of Souls by Arthur Machen (London: Grant Richards, 1906)
The House of Souls by Arthur Machen (London: Grant Richards, 1906)

 

Creatures flee daytime situations which people handle -- or not -- in the remake of the ABC made-for-television horror film, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. The 74-minute original movie followed similar plotlines, through the inputs of:

  • Allen S. Epstein, producer;
  • Gene Fowler, Jr. and Michael McCrosker, editors;
  • Billy Goldenberg, musician;
  • Andrew Jackson, cinematographer;
  • Nigel McKeand, screenwriter;
  • John Newland, director.

Its filming location was Ventura County Historical Landmark #4: Elgin-born Illinois publisher David Caleb Cook’s (August 28, 1849 – July 30, 1927) 1890-built, Queen Anne-styled mansion in Piru, California. Lorimar Productions’ release date was October 10, 1973, with:

  • Distribution by ABC Broadcasting, USA Home Video, Warner Bros.;
  • Special effects by The Howard Anderson Company;
  • Vehicles by Chrysler Corporation.

 

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (Remastered, Special Edition): 1973 ABC made-for-TV horror film with Kim Darby and Jim Hutton ~

It's back! The classic TV MOW that continues to cast a spell almost 40 years after it was first broadcast; in a new remastered and enhanced edition.
scary movies

 

The 99-minute remake benefits from:

  • Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders, musicians;
  • Jill Bilcock, editor;
  • Mark Johnson and Stephen Jones, producer;
  • Troy Nixey, director;
  • Matthew Robbins, writer;
  • Oliver Stapleton, cinematographer;
  • Guillermo del Toro, writer-director.  

It had as filming locations in Victoria, southeast Australia:

  • Central City Studios;
  • Melbourne;
  • Mount Macedon.

Its initial release date was November 6, 2010, with:

  • Distribution by FilmDistrict;
  • Special effects by Iloura and Spectral Motion.

Its premieres by Granvia, Miramax Films, and Necropia were on:

  • June 26, 2011 at Los Angeles Film Festival, California;
  • August 22, 2011 at Buenos Aires, Argentina;
  • August 25, 2011 at London FrightFest Film Festival, England.

It premiered in 2012 as:

  • DVDs in France, Germany, and Sweden;
  • Television programming in Hungary.

 

"Don't Be Afraid of the Dark": theatrical viewing in trendy Berkeley on September 1, 2011, less than a week after film's U.S. release on August 26th.

California Theatre, Berkeley, northern Alameda County, northern coastal California
California Theatre, Berkeley, northern Alameda County, northern coastal California

 

The plot in both versions concerns creatures who occupy a mansion’s sub-basement and stalk the newest move-in, Sally. In the original, Sally Farnham (Kim Darby) emerges as an heiress whose deceased grandmother’s mansion includes a sealed fireplace and sub-basement because of a tragic event. Sally inadvertently frees creatures who consequently demand her becoming like them. She finds belief from the hired carpenter, Mr. Harris (William Demarest), and skepticism from:

  • Doctor (Robert Cleaves);
  • Friends George and Joan Kahn (Joel Lawrence, Barbara Anderson);
  • Husband Alex (Jim Hutton).

One of the links between the two versions is the tragic staircase stumble of a hired designer, Francisco Perez (Pedro Armendáriz, Jr.) in the original and Kim (Katie Holmes) in the remake.

 

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark: Katie Holmes, Bailee Madison, and Guy Pearce

scary movies

 

In the remake, eight-year-old Sally Hurst’s (Bailee Madison) mother, Joanne (Abbe Holmes), appears to need time-out for love interests in Los Angeles, California. Sally comes to live with her father and his girlfriend in Providence County, Rhode Island. Alex and Kim do not have too much time to spare from respectively face-lifting and interior-designing Blackwood Manor. The isolated manor does not seem at all interesting until Sally discovers:

  • Backyard gardens;
  • Basement windows;
  • Noisy grates;
  • People’s teeth;
  • Silver coins.

Sally entertains thoughts of befriending the sub-basement’s hermits. But malicious pranks which destroy Kim’s wardrobe and which harm Alex’s employee, William Harris (Jack Thompson), frighten Sally. But neither Alex nor the housekeeper, Mrs. Underhill (Julia Blake), offers any protection.

 

Bailee Madison -- presumably in a less scary place than "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" -- at 19th Annual Movieguide Awards® Gala

February 17, 2011
Universal Hilton Hotel, Universal City, San Fernando Valley region, Los Angeles County, southern California
Universal Hilton Hotel, Universal City, San Fernando Valley region, Los Angeles County, southern California

Conclusion

 

As in the original, the doctor (Nicholas Bell) appears as someone who can, but does not, make a difference. He attributes Sally’s surliness to feeling left out. But he considers medication stronger than Adderall -- which treats attention deficit hyperactivity disorder -- the problem-solver to an over-active imagination. The recommendation does nothing to halt the free-fall to catastrophes:

  • At the dinner table with Architectural Digest-connected power couple, Charles and Evelyn Jacoby (Alan Dale, Trudy Hellier);
  • In the library;
  • Near the car;
  • On the stairs.

It nevertheless impels Kim to help and love the person to whom she least and most relates, Sally. The conclusion is as frightening as it actually is logical in this must-see, must-own film.

 

Kim (Katie Holmes) finds shocking discoveries in "Lot 1134" at an opulent, local library in Rhode Island:

Scene was actually filmed in State Library of Melbourne in Australia's southeastern state of Victoria.
Reading room of the State Library, Melbourne, southwestern Victoria state, southeastern Australia
Reading room of the State Library, Melbourne, southwestern Victoria state, southeastern Australia

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.

 

Don't Be Afraid of The Dark Trailer [HD]

Uploaded to YouTube on August 3, 2010 by IGN ~ URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFE4lGvRt8E

Sources Consulted

 

"David Caleb Cook." Find A Grave.com. Retrieved October 31, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=15730136

Machen, Arthur. 1915. The Angels of Mons. London, England: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., Ltd.

Machen, Arthur. 1926. The Chronicle of Clemendy. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.

Machen, Arthur. 1922. The Hill of Dreams. 1923 Edition. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.

Machen, Arthur. 1922. The House of Souls. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.

Machen, Arthur. 1924. Ornaments in Jade. New York, NY; Alfred A. Knopf.

Machen, Arthur. 1922. The Secret Glory. 1925 Edition. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.

Machen, Arthur. 1923. The Shining Pyramid. Chicago, IL: Covici-McGee.

Machen, Arthur. 1917. Stories and Articles. Baltimore, MD: Privately Printed.

Machen, Arthur. 1923. Things Near and Far. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.

Machen, Arthur. 1923. The Three Imposters. New York, NY: Alfred A.Knopf.

Newland, John. 23 August 2011. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. Warner Archive.

Palmer, Christopher. (Ed.). 1988. The Collected Arthur Machen. London, England: Duckworth.

Robbins, Matthew; and del Toro, Guillermo. 3 January 2012. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. 

Guillermo del Toro -- eliciting smiles rather than screams -- at masterclass in Toronto on September 21, 2011, less than a month after August 26th U.S. release of "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark."

Toronto, southern Ontario, east central Canada
Toronto, southern Ontario, east central Canada
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Guinness - Don't Be Afraid of the Dark: black t-shirt ~ Available via AllPosters

Guinness - Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
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Updated: 05/08/2015, DerdriuMarriner
 
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