Preview review: ‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.’ Or, be very afraid of the dark.


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Last month at Comic-Con, Guillermo del Toro said the MPAA felt his new movie ‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark’ was so bone-chilling that it could only be rated R.

‘We originally thought we could shoot it as PG-13 without compromising the scares,’ Del Toro said. ‘And then the MPAA came back and gave us a badge of honor. They gave us an R for ‘pervasive scariness.’ We asked them if there’s anything we could do, and they said, ‘Why ruin a perfectly scary movie?’ ‘


Having watched the trailer for the film, we understand why.

The movie, co-written and produced by Del Toro and directed by Troy Nixey, is a remake of a little-known 1970s horror film. At its center is Sally Hurst (Bailee Madison), a young child who moves in with her dad (Guy Pearce) and his new girlfriend (Katie Holmes). They’re living in an ominous-looking 19th century mansion on Rhode Island, where Sally discovers a secret basement. The hidden space has remained untouched since the man who built the mansion mysteriously vanished 100 years prior. When she goes into the basement, Sally unwittingly awakens a group of creepy creatures, who then begin to threaten the entire family.

The new teaser trailer for the film is pretty short -- far shorter than the roughly 10 minutes of expository footage shown in San Diego -- and includes few shots from the actual movie. Instead, most of the preview features a black screen accompanied by a sinister-sounding voice-over warning us that there’s ‘nothing to be afraid of.’ Yeah, right. Cut to a montage of dim shots: There are creatures trying to enter the house through a metal vent, glass is breaking, there’s lots of screaming.

Even more affecting, though, is the final image of Sally crawling through sheets with only a flashlight until she lets out a bloodcurdling scream. The effect is frightening and leads us to believe that horror fans aren’t going to be let down.

In any case, we’ll be sleeping with the lights on tonight.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark in HD

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-- Amy Kaufman

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