Thursday, June 14, 2012

3 Short Paragraphs: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

2011, Troy Nixey -- download

Despite some definite Katie Holmes hate-on in our household, we were eager to see this because Guillermo del Toro wrote the screenplay.  If I have a favourite movie creator these days, it would be him.  His influence is very obvious on this movie, visually as well as the script.  In this remake of a 70s TV movie, nasty little faerie creatures are the protagonist, very del Toro creatures reminiscent of those seen in Hellboy II and Pan's Labyrinth.  They scrabble through the walls and substructure and come out at night to make trouble.  And they have an unsavoury fondness  for human teeth, the younger the better.

Guy Pearce and Katie move into one of those ancient old American homes that nobody but the ultra wealthy could afford these days.  Decrepit and falling apart, the couple are renovating the house for the consortium of Mr. Jacoby.  They hope to make their name as designers/renovators doing this reno.  Add to the mix Pearce's daughter, handed over unexpectedly as part of the ex-war.  The house is creepy as hell but I probably more saw the place through their eyes because, damn is it gorgeous !!  The little girl, left to fend for herself as the adults work, is both frightened by the house (and its scrabbling inhabitants) as well as intrigued.  The fact she is drugged up by her mother doesn't help the situation.

It was a sufficient movie.  Yeah, not high praise, but it is one of those movies where the characters are required to do things not quite logically to allow the tension to rise.  Everything is quite atmospheric and I was quite happy to see the wizened little creatures emerge from the dark almost immediately after having been accidentally summoned via a bowl of teeth.  From there it is a war between the little girl's credibility and the trouble the creatures create for her.  I will blame it on the drugs or her age but why she didn't immediately freak out that this 6" dark pixie was real is beyond me.  When the adults are finally brought into play, they react as they usually do, seeking evidence and explanation instead of just getting the fuck out of Dodge.  And they pay the price.  First time director Nixey shows through here as the supporting elements, art work and creature design, are more enthralling than the actual story direction.  But Guillermo got him his break into film and he does respectably well with it.