Box art for Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

horror, thrillers

A young girl is sent to live with her estranged father and his girlfriend at their new home. The father, Alex has plans to spruce up the home with the help of his interior decorator girlfriend, Kim.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 16
1 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
Positive role models
1 out of 5
2 out of 5
4 out of 5

Scary remake features some gore and a young girl in danger.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this horror movie -- a loose remake of a 1973 made-for-TV movie -- focuses on a tween girl who accidentally releases dozens of hungry, scary creatures into an old house. She's often in danger, and although the movie is less bloody than other horror flicks, there are a few extremely gory sequences in which adult characters are disfigured and murdered (slashing, heads bashed, etc.), and the movie's overall tone/feel makes it very scary and suspenseful. Language is extremely mild for an R-rated movie ("hell" is about the worst of it), and an adult couple is seen kissing, with off-screen sex implied.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence. What's the impact of the gory sequences? Are they scarier than the more suspenseful/tense scenes? Why or why not?
  • Are either of the grown-ups in this movie role models? Can either of them make an actual connection with Sally when she needs it most?
  • What makes the little creatures so scary and/or creepy? Is a movie like this more or less scary than a story in which humans hurt each other, rather than creatures?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Audience Reviews

2 stars

An error in the listing says this is the 1973 version, which isn't the case. Anyway, this movie wanted to be good, but it wasn't. Not only was it not scary, but it was downright goofy at times-- I felt sorry for the cast. I'm only giving it two stars because the cast did their job the best they could, and the cinematography was actually rather good. It was, if nothing else, an attractive film.

- liquidchick76, Wednesday, February 15, 2012

2 stars

Having delivered such quality horror films in the past with "The Devil's Backbone" and "Pan Labyrinth", Guillermo Del Toro does the producing and writing duties on this. He had the intention of directing it himself but due to a hectic schedule, the directing reins were handed to first time feature director Troy Nixey. Maybe, if Del Toro had helmed this, it wouldn't have been as uneventful. But then, he did write the script, which is the films ultimate letdown. Young Sally (Bailee Madison), who's neurotic, overmedicated, and feels unloved, is sent to live with her divorced father, Alex (Guy Pearce). He's renovating a spooky old mansion with his girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes), but the house has a terrible history. It doesn't take long for the little girl to hear strange voices, calling to her from a boarded-up basement, behind a furnace vent. The voices belong to monstrous little creatures who mean to overtake her as their latest "friend." It builds slowly and assuredly the way a good horror story should. It has the vulnerable child; the disbelieving parents; the grand, dark mansion with it's enigmatic groundskeeper and the always reliable, things that go bump in the night. With everything place, you expect it to take off at some point, but it never does. The good use of atmosphere is wasted and the acting is wooden but even they are overshadowed by a sluggish pace and dull formulaic script. When the little creatures are finally revealed, it looks like it may be onto something but as impressive as they are, they are ultimately underused. Even they couldn't prevent the tediousness this film has. About half way in, my suspicions were realised as this was never really going to go anywhere and as a result my interest waned. The fact that this film lay in limbo for 2 years, before being released, says it all really. Like so many horror films (and remakes) these days, it promises so much but delivers so little.

- MrMarakai, Monday, February 13, 2012

3 stars

Creepy little demons. Scared little girl that no one will pay attention to. Lots, and lots of darkness...made me jump more than once, so that means something in my book. Not the greatest of endings, as usual..

- itsjustme2004, Sunday, September 29, 2013