Monday, October 01, 2012
31 Days of Halloween - Day 1 - Movie 2
My daughter was home sick from school today, so we ended up watching Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2010), the remake to the 1973 made for tv movie. I'd seen this movie in the theater when it first came out and found it to be a major disappointment. The movie had gorgeous sets and did some nice thematic work with color, and I even thought the little creatures in it were pretty cool looking, but these things do not make a movie.
The problem was really with the characters. None of them are likeable, or even sympathetic. Guy Pearce plays a self absorbed architect/property restoration expert who is much more interested in making sure his current project makes it onto the cover of Architectural Digest than he is in bonding with his young daughter who has come to live with him. Katie Holmes plays Pierce's girlfriend put in the awkward position of trying to win over a little girl who doesn't want her while also trying to make the girl's father pay attention to her. Instead of being at the center of a tug of war between the father and daughter, she's pushed away by both. Bailee Madison, as the daughter, while understandably feeling alienated, rejected, frightened and alone, is so blank most of the time when she's not screaming and being disbelieved by both adults that there are small nasty creatures living in the house, that the wall she puts up around herself keeps the audience out as well, making her hard to empathize with.
This is less a fault with the actors than it is, surprisingly, with the script by Gullermo Del Toro (who normally has a gift for stories involving children faced with broken homes an supernatural creatures) and Matthew Robbins. Since there was no way to become engaged with anyone, it was hard to muster up any feelings of concern for their outcomes.
On this second viewing, since my expectations had previously been shattered, I went into knowing I was probably not going to like it more this time around. I was right, but I probably felt a little less disdain for it.