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Nordling here.

Coming out of the DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK screening, I was struck by how the slow burn in horror films isn't used much anymore.  It's very difficult to ratchet the tension slowly, so by the end of the film the intensity is almost unbearable.  I think Troy Nixey's first feature film is a hell of a good ride, and although there's fat in the middle it's a quite effective horror story.

NemesisOfZod was at the Houston screening, and had a great time as well:

First I want to thank you for letting me get in to see Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark.  The movie was great, and the audience seemed to genuinely enjoy the film and the atmosphere.  I definitely look forward to seeing any other sneak previews, and my wife is totally jazzed about seeing The Great Muppet Caper, especially after I told her some of the details you told me about.

My Review:

There are a lot of times in "horror" films when you can tell that the screenplay had strokes of brilliance, but after a while the director decided to phone it in.  There are so many horror movie conventions that exist, and movies have become very predictable because of it.  Walking in to see "Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark" I had some distinct ideas of what to expect, because it is produced by Guillermo Del Toro.  I was expecting creepy eye hands and things of that nature.  I based my ideas on Pan's Labyrinth to a degree, instead of remembering that he was also responsible for Mimic, and the way it turned a few cliches on their ear. (Seriously, I just mentioned Mimic)  The pre-credits scene sets a lot of the story in motion, and is one of those scenes that will stick with you throughout the movie.The movie starts off with Sally (Bailee Madison from the creepiest episode of L&O:SVU) coming to live with her father (Guy Pearce) and father's girlfriend (An incredibly surprising Katie Holmes).  You can tell that it isn't her idea of a good time. 

I don't believe in spoilers, so I won't bother with them.  As you watch the film, pay attention to the scenes as they happen.  There is so much foreshadowing that occurs in minute amounts.  As the movie progresses, You become involved in the characters and what is going on around them.  The house in the film is being renovated by the father and girlfriend, and this keeps the father's mind on both the house and Sally, which means he can't focus on one or the other completely.  At moments you will hate the father for how distant he is to the situation, and at others you will see Guy Pearce really crank it up and see how helpless he can feel in this entire situation.  Sally moves through the movie and advances the story nicely, making you wonder how much of the backstory we really have, and how much is coming up.  There is definitely an "is she or isn't she" kind of feel to the character.  The best part of the movie is how it keeps you on your toes.  It doesn't play the cat jumping out gag or things of that nature, and when the reality of the situation is revealed you feel relieved to know what is happening, and tense because you now know EXACTLY what is happening. 

The level of violence is both over the top and subdued.  You may have a moment or two that is cringe worthy, but at the same time this film isn't Saw.  The violence has a purpose.  It shows you the lengths that some will go to get what they want.  The film doesn't end how you expect it to, and at the same time it ends how you think it will.  Watch it and tell me if you disagree.  A film like this builds up slowly, and as soon as it builds you up, the pace changes become involved.  You move at a smarter pace than some other films.  Most importantly, when you finally get to the end, the film leaves you going back through it, wondering if you could have missed other details that may have made a difference for you as the viewer, or for the characters themselves.  I can think of a couple of things that I brought up to a few people that made them step back and say "Ahh!" because the answer seemed to be dangling in front of us, but never quite answered.  This is the way horror films should be.

If you use this, you can call me NemesisOfZod.  If not, I still appreciate you taking the time to read my review!

Thanks, man.  Glad you enjoyed the screening.  Nordling, out.

Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 18, 2011, 9:42 p.m. CST


    by Jeff

  • Aug. 18, 2011, 9:46 p.m. CST

    Best and worst review ever

    by TedTwist

    The review started out exactly like I thought it would, but at the same time was different. Then, the review ended differently that I expected, but pretty much the way I thought it would.

  • Aug. 18, 2011, 9:46 p.m. CST

    What's green, leafy, and full of chlorophyll?

    by DrMorbius

    But, I digress ...

  • Aug. 18, 2011, 9:46 p.m. CST


    by shartron

    Intense is just as good if not better than cheap scares.

  • Aug. 18, 2011, 9:55 p.m. CST

    NemesisOfZod Loves

    by lostboytexas


  • Aug. 18, 2011, 9:55 p.m. CST

    pos movie

    by doom master

    This movie is like Katie Holmes: The Real Story.....

  • Aug. 18, 2011, 10:04 p.m. CST

    Looks like a Netflix

    by Can Man

    Where's At the Mountains of Madness?

  • Aug. 18, 2011, 10:09 p.m. CST

    LOVE the original..

    by darthwaz1

    it's still creepy to this day..

  • Aug. 18, 2011, 10:09 p.m. CST


    by Polo Chavez

    How original.

  • What a joke.

  • Aug. 18, 2011, 10:30 p.m. CST


    by Sin86a

    Your post killed me. Well said. This review made no sense. But then it did. Until I realized it didn't.

  • Aug. 18, 2011, 10:43 p.m. CST

    As you watch the film, pay attention to the scenes as they happen.

    by Chris Stewart

    Brilliant advice!

  • Aug. 18, 2011, 10:55 p.m. CST


    by lochkray

    I thought the exact opposite of the review.

  • Aug. 18, 2011, 11:07 p.m. CST


    by rapscallion86

    Stupid review. I don't think I got any insight into the film whatsoever. What the hell was this guy trying to say?

  • Aug. 18, 2011, 11:37 p.m. CST

    There are scenes where you don't know what's going to happen next

    by kidicarus

    ....because you know, you've never seen the movie before

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 12:14 a.m. CST


    by SpaghettiWall


  • How did he get that job you say? Was it the years he spent making short movies? No, he's made no short films. Was it the sheer quality of the scripts he's written? No, he's never sold a script or written one as far as we know. It's because, like Harry Knowles and most of the fucking scumbags that write for AICN and CHUD, Nick Nunziata has spent years kissing as much ass as possible to get a credit on a feature, specifically, Guillermo Del Toro's (who is a Producer on this film) who's maximum width gluteus maximus is where The Nunz has had his full and supple cocksucking lips planted on for several years. It's the same thing with all of these people. Their nothing but self-promoting opportunistic parasites that are less interested in making movie’s then they are in gaining status within the movie industry and lining their pockets. You know, back in the old days, people like Coppola, Scorsese, DePalma, Spielberg etc… got their start by actually MAKING short films and working their way up to Directing a feature. The worst thing about scum like TheNunz is the nerve they have talking shit about someone like Kevin Smith who, despite his MANY faults and a few shitty movies, has actually crafted a career for himself and managed to work as a Writer, Director, Producer, Actor etc… for over 15 years while little Nicky has only just managed to achieve his first real credit (apart from “co-Producing” the DTV Grizzly Park which means that El Nunz probably went for McDonald’s a few times to feed the crew during the movies 3 day shoot) on a fucking remake of a 1970’s TV movie starring Tom Cruise’s beard Katie Holmes. I think it’s safe to say that Avatar’s box office record will remain intact. The only nice things I can say about Nick Nunziata is that he probably doesn’t molest his daughter, unlike Nordling, and despite being able to pass himself off as the twin brother of fellow New Yorker Devin Faraci, Nick doesn’t sound like that squeaky voiced faggot.

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 1:32 a.m. CST

    Catchtheman.... your insecurities are hanging out.

    by Happyfat73

    What's up... did the old CHUD crew run over your bike or something? Sleep with your mum? Run over your mum and sleep with your bike?</p> </p> Oh well, at least you didn't shout FACT at anyone this time. Perhaps you'd like to re-post, just so you can shout FACT.

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 1:48 a.m. CST


    by Happyfat73

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 3:28 a.m. CST

    The Original "Dark"

    by Green

    I saw it as a kid and it fucking terrified me. 30 years later, I got a DVD tape of it and rewatched it. Like a lot of films you love as a child, it didn't hold up when I viewed it as an adult. There's lot's of cheesiness in the original, some pretty lousy acting and some lame writing. And yet...and yet... The damn movie really has something unusual. The look of the creatures is truly bizarre. They seem to change size inexplicably from scene to scene. Though it's definitely clear they were once human, there is absolutely no explanation of what they are now nor why they're doing what they're doing -- and that makes it far more terrifying (at least for me). I don't know the story about how the filmmakers came up with this tale, but I suspect it originally sprang from somebody's nightmare. There is a strange, dreamlike quality to the movie that may or may not have been intentional Maybe the whole film was some kind of weird accident (many good movies often are). Certain things just fell into place because they didn't have the budget for what they wanted and had to improvise. Whatever the case, it's still an uncanny story. Hope Troy Nixey's/Guillermo's version holds up. We shall see...

  • And the reason it had those thing is the same reason why the original Phantasm and Carnival of Souls also had amazing mood and's because they couldn't afford anything else so they put special attention to the score and sound design. Movie makers don't realise just how important a score and great sound design can be. David Lynch is one of the few Director's who truly understands this. Lars Von Trier's anti-christ is an example of a Director who knows what he's doing.

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 5:07 a.m. CST


    by smatt584


  • Aug. 19, 2011, 5:09 a.m. CST


    by smatt584

    Damn, Kraken packs a punch lol. Anyway, i was going yo point out that plants usually know the difference between a director and a producer.

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 8:58 a.m. CST

    The original

    by shodan6672

    I mentioned it in another post, but the orignal film didn't just scare me as a kid. It fucked me up Seriously. I had trouble sleeping for weeks. It was as though it was designed specifically to play upon childhood fears.

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 9:32 a.m. CST

    it scared the crap out of me


    i remembered people getting dragged down into the fireplace for about 30 years

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 9:32 a.m. CST

    CHUD does suck it, I agree.

    by ZodNotGod

    WOW. Someone actually said Lars Von Trier knows what he is doing....haha! Since when?

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 11:51 a.m. CST

    It's honestly REALLY GOOD

    by Flames gotta Eat

    Saw a screening last night. It is old school horror and scary. Shot like a 70s film, the score is great and orchestral old school (thank God), the acting is solid, especially from the little girl, it's told from her point of view so she has to be strong but you know Del Toro always casts great kids. It's truly scary, GREAT EFFECTS, I believe the little guys are all CG but this is how you do CG, they look fantastic. Great set and art design as usual for Del Toro and heavy atmosphere. Just highly recommended, a horror film that we don't see too often. I hope that Woman in Black film with Harry Potter is like this too, if we can get two of these films this year that would be a triumph. For comparison, I thought Fright Night was middle of the road, I'm kinda perplexed by the love it's receiving, but Are You Afraid is no joke, if you don't like this film I'm not sure you're a full horror fan.

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 12:04 p.m. CST

    The original "Don't be Afraid of the Dark"

    by Yukon Cornelius

    I think the original DBAOTD still holds up today almost 40 years later--yes some of the special effects as well as the clothing and hairstyles are clearly dated, but it was a product of it's time. I personally think the original is one of the most black-hearted and creepiest melon-farming films of all time, made-for-TV or otherwise, and it clearly scarred many, many children that grew up in the 70s and viewed it either as a first run movie of the week, or as a late night rerun or Saturday afternoon creature feature (it's nearest rival being the Zuni fetish doll sequence from Trilogy of Terror). I still watch it religiously every year around Halloween and still have a VHS tape of a TV broadcast from channel 5 WNEW-TV in NYC from the late 80s, though since it's been released uncut on dvd, my copy is more entertaining for the commercials now. I'm a bit ambivalent about this remake--part of me really hates the idea on principal (jeez, why not just create a new print of the damn original and release it to arthouse theaters? I'd pay to see it!) but part of me wants to see it really bad. I guess if it exposes new viewers to the original version it can't be a bad thing, but I still hate the idea of remakes/reimaginings/SEs etc. I can't wait until the next batch of remakes of remakes of remakes (The Thing to the 4th power in 4D coming to a Holomax theater near you in fall 2019!)

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 12:10 p.m. CST

    A a devotee of the original, I am there opening night.

    by the Green Gargantua

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 1:13 p.m. CST

    The original is the scariest movie ever made

    by fuldamobil

    Sure, I was only like 5 when I fist saw it, but it completely traumatized me forever and I've never been able to rewatch it. Despite that, it's still seared into my brain. And this was a t.v. movie for crissakes. All I wanted was to watch some Woody Woodpecker cartoons and that thing came on.

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 2:51 p.m. CST

    LOL at fuldamobil

    by Yukon Cornelius

    I hear you! If you saw it for the first time as a young kid I can definitely see it having that kind of impact (versus if you saw it for the first time as a jaded and cynical 20 or 30-something: "Definitely not scary--I laughed at those little apple headed monkey dudes when they crawled out of the fireplace. Did you see how crappy those masks were? The mouths didn't even open!") Anyway, you know what else is really creepy? That anti-drunk driving ad that pops up on the AICN home page--it's got a disturbing "Big Brother is watching", sci-fi Nazi SS brownshirt in black budget Predator style invibility cloak camo vibe to it--watch the inviso-trooper's pervy eyes follow the young lovers as they make their way to a dingy side alley for some drunken fornication when BAM! Arrested by said invisible goon. Creepy!