Review- Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

Bailee Madison in Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (Film District)

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark? Don’t worry I won’t be. Allow me to state for the record that I do not have anything against a slow burn, which this film is, however, there’s not enough spark there to get it going. A lot of that has to do with the fact that stupidity abounds in this film. The other is the pace itself and then there’s the subject matter.

Firstly, it is easy to create an adequately entertaining to great teaser scene in a horror film, however, if the rest of the film comes nowhere near matching it then you’ve done yourself a disservice and I understand the temptation to not do one. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark‘s teaser scene is the one truly cringe-worthy moment the remainder of the film is hopelessly tedious and ineffective.

Equally as ineffective are the fairies in more ways than one. Yes, I am aware of the fact that a lot of the lore pertaining to fairies is in no way cutesy but that never really translates in this film. Their voices are small, silly and squeaky and never menacing. Though they’ve had many years to practice are about as hapless as killers can get and that really undercuts any tension that might be built. Not to mention the fact that their whole modus operandi lacks a very cogent explication.

Then you have the parents: Alex (Guy Pearce, with the most unfortunate hair) and Kim (Katie Holmes), the oh-so-young stepmother. These are your classic dumb characters in horror films. They are oblivious and/or in denial about what is really happening for far too long. Neither of them comes across as someone you could empathize with much less sympathize, Pearce with his cold dead-pan and Holmes with her patented smirky face lack depth as badly as the film does.

There is only any light shone upon the fairy backstory in one scene and that scene works but then it introduces a scene where Kim rushes back to the house drops a canvas and reveals a huge, blatant and graphic mural. The fact that this mural was missed before (or implied to have been missed) is laughable and not worthy of C-Grade Giallo films.

The only thing the film has going for it from start to finish is the stellar performance of Bailee Madison. She is often alone and having to be convincingly scared with no one to play off her and/or reacting to CG elements and she does wonderfully. The fact that Madison shines cannot save this film though.

The pace hardly ever quickens and the horrors of this this film are so avoidable such that it wallows in tedium. The film ends up not being scary, funny or entertaining. Some situations added to create character are so trite it’s surprising they’re in the film at all and to top it off the ending is just dementedly stupid.

It’s rare when a film has me leave fuming as opposed to bow-beaten by its awfulness. This film did that.

2/10

Review- Creature

Serinda Swan and Mehcad Brooks in Creature (The Bubble Factory)

Creature. What does Creature do right? What is Creature? Why does Creature exist and why was it released to 1,507 screens? Why did I watch Creature? These are all questions I asked myself while watching this film.

To answer the first question there’s not much this film does right at all. It’s the kind of film that thinks character development is giving someone a piece of dialogue in which they say something weird and it never gets explained or an inside joke is shared and we never get let in. A film can overcome the shortcomings of its cast with its narrative, technical proficiency and artistry. There is very little of that so I’m left watching a cast that might have been rejected for Final Destination 5.

So it ends up being the worst permutation of all horror films: one wherein you actually want all the characters dead but know they likely will survive. The characters are for the most part as annoying as the actors. To be fair there are but two positive developments: one is a twist and the other is that Niles played by Mehcad Brooks emerges as someone watchable and that you can almost pull for. In the end he’s like a poor-man’s Duane Jones (Night of the Living Dead) but this movie is nowhere near a classic.

The edit of this film is painful. At a climactic moment there are so many cutaways that it goes beyond foreshadowing to bludgeoning you with obviousness. The film is also riddled with nonsensical dissolves and cuts and worse yet cutaways were you know they’re not showing an entry wound to save money.

Despite the fact that I did manage to find some good things to say about it about I was tempted to walk out of this film due to its sheer crappiness. This was right before the aforementioned twist. A twist which does not absolve most of the characters of their stupidity and is therefore wasted.

Stupidity rears its ugly head in a big way at least twice in this film and it’s truly insufferable. In Fright Night I discuss one of the paradigms of modern horror being about disbelief, well stupidity is another. Any horror fan cut their teeth on films where screaming girls run upstairs and trap themselves when a killer is chasing them. It was fine for a time but we’ve grown tired of it. These kids willingly seek out the local lore to mock it and become endangered. It doesn’t engender sympathy.

Then there’s the Phantom Menace, I mean, The Creature. It may be the best thing going for it but it’s consistently, purposefully under-exposed like they’re giving it the Jaws treatment sans theme song through most of it. It doesn’t make it scarier, when it’s revealed it’s laughable.

As if the creature’s lack of ferocity isn’t bad enough the film is like softcore porn at times.

To address one of my initial questions about how wide the release was my only guess is that it’s a kind of reverse psychology. Now it’s the biggest bomb of all-time and everyone with a morbid streak will want to see it on video.

1/10