Guillermo Del Torro turns “Don’t Be Afraid of The Dark” into a creepy atmospheric chiller with his signature style, but any horror that’s produced is dragged down by bland characters and contrivances.

Sally (Bailee Madison) moves in with his divorced father (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend (Katie Holmes). While the two adults are busy restoring the Gothic mansion, Sally explores the estate and discovers its dark secret hidden in a fire ash pit. With no one to turn to, she gives in to the voices promising her friendship and understanding. Unbeknownst to her, the voices belong to creatures who only mean to feed. Faced with this horror, she attempts to warn her family but no one believes her.

The movie looks good. If you’re familiar with Del Torro’s work, you will easily identify with the movie’s visuals and settings – a dark haired girl wonders around the family’s creepy and mysterious estate and discovers what’s hidden in its dark corners, setting the stage for the horrors that will follow.

However whatever the movie has built in the beginning is zapped by horror contrivances – the father and his girlfriend are ridiculously oblivious and stupid, servants are either useless or go MIA, and the lead is a conveniently pill popping emo kid who can’t seem to decide whether she will fight or just cry her heart out.

The acting didn’t contribute anything either. Guy Pearce is dull and while Katie Holmes is tolerable, she’s still uninteresting. Bailee Madison is better than the adults but the audience still gets nothing to invest in any of the characters in the film. The creatures are scary but lose their appeal through the course of movie. They’re more like smart pests with Dolby enhanced whispers. When the movie ends, it just proves how much of a heartless douche the father is.

The film started on the right foot, but ended up falling into the trap that turns horror movies into silly flicks.

My Rating: 6/10

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