Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark Movie Review: Be Very Afraid

Guillermo del Toro and Katie Holmes have joined forces to craft the horror film of the summer in Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. From the film’s opening scene the audience is put on notice: Del Toro’s script is fathomable and feverish in its fear generating abilities.

Katie Holmes in Don't Be Afraid of the Dark still

Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes are Alex and Kim, a young couple with dreams of turning a Rhode Island historic landmark mansion into something worthy of an Architecture Digest cover. They are living in the home as they renovate. The film commences as Alex and Kim are awaiting the arrival of Alex’s daughter Sally at the airport.

The star of the film is truly Hailey Madison as Sally, the little girl at the center of the entire movie’s horror. She is sullen. Sally is a child whose parents have divorced and because mother is too busy in her L.A. lifestyle, she must live with her father and his girlfriend in an opaque manse with an extensive past.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is pure del Toro. As in Pan’s Labyrinth, the filmmaker crafts a world where evil lurks beneath the surface, literally. When Sally starts to accept her future living with dad, she begins hearing voices that lead her to a hidden basement that is rooted in historical horror.

Evil whispers ensure and to not give away too much, let’s just say this: The film’s tiny but terrifying creatures are pure del Toro.

As it becomes clear that Sally’s father is over his head, her exhilarating situation only becomes more searing.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark Still

The film’s director, Troy Nixey, has some holes in his film, yet none of them extend beyond the usual devices that horror movies use to rivet its audience. Like Steven Spielberg’s Poltergeist, there is a moment where if you truly think about it, will have you asking a horror movie classic question. Yet, we accept such dalliances because in the horror genre, these plot mechanisms ultimately are easily forgetten given the scope of the scary onscreen over 90-plus minutes.

Katie Holmes channels her inner maternal instincts and produces a performance as Kim that is equally driven, distant and delirious at the happenings inside her dream home.

The location scout for Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark deserves an Oscar nod if they existed for such positions. Pearce, Holmes and Madison’s abode is a character unto itself. It is pure New England gothic, gregarious and generator of all Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark’s devilish delight.

MTV Teases The Hunger Games Teaser

MTV has holding its yearly salute to music videos August 28, but the network is hoping quite a few movie fans tune in as they are debuting the teaser for The Hunger Games.

Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games is one of the most anticipated flicks of 2012, arriving in March. MTV is planning to premiere the first video look at the film and has released a teaser to the teaser to further whet fans’ appetites.

There isn’t much in the way of film footage in the teaser of the teaser, but we do get a glimpse, albeit short, of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss.

The Hunger Games is based on the bestselling novels by Suzanne Collins and is set to become a film trilogy with director Gary Ross at the helm.

MTV Teases The Hunger Games

Higher Ground Video Exclusive: Joshua Leonard on Vera Farmiga’s Directorial Debut

Joshua Leonard, as an actor who has directed himself, found his time starring in Higher Ground opposite Vera Farmiga a mind-blowing experience. Farmiga is making her directorial debut with Higher Ground and Leonard admitted, he thought he learned it all on the set of his The Lie, and then he spent months on a Farmiga set and came away completely inspired.

Joshua Leonard in Higher Ground

Leonard is sitting with Movie Fanatic for an exclusive video interview from the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. The star, who first came to audience awareness in the legendary Blair Witch Project, portrays Ethan, the object of Farmiga’s affection. Ethan is the husband of Farmiga’s Corinne and the story follows the two as they discover Christianity and the winding road that is life and how it is influenced by deity.

Joshua Leonard and Vera Farmiga in Higher Ground

Since starring in Blair Witch in 1999, Leonard has appeared in dozens of films and television shows. Judging by his astounding performance in Higher Ground, Leonard has rightfully earned his spot as the breakout star from that terrifying late nineties surprise smash.

Higher Ground Video Interview: Joshua Leonard

Ghostbusters 3: Dan Aykroyd Admits It’s On

Ghostbusters 3 is moving forward, so said star, producer and the creative mind behind the film, Dan Aykroyd.

Ghostbusters Logo

“Yes, we will be doing the movie and hopefully with Mr. Murray,” Aykroyd said on The Dennis Miller Show. The Mr. Murray in question is of course Bill Murray, who famously appeared in the first two Ghostbusters films.

“That is our hope. We have an excellent script. What we have to remember is that Ghostbusters is bigger than any one component, although Billy was absolutely the lead and contributive to it in a massive way, as was the director and Harold (Ramis), myself and Sigourney (Weaver). The concept is much larger than any individual role and the promise of Ghostbusters 3 is that we get to hand the equipment and the franchise down to new blood.”

Aykroyd also admitted that he expects filming to begin in September of 2012 as a script is set. When Aykroyd refers to “new blood,” our mind goes haywire. Can you imagine Seth Rogen, Jason Sudeikis or Charlie Day joining the franchise? We sure can! But, the Movie Fanatic is always dreaming.

As for plot points, Aykroyd divulged just a few.

“My character, Ray, is now blind in one eye and can’t drive the Cadillac,” he says, “He’s got a bad knee and can’t carry the packs… Egon is too large to get into the harness. We need young blood and that’s the promise. We’re gonna hand it to a new generation.”

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark: Katie Holmes and Guillermo del Toro Talk

Guillermo del Toro is quickly becoming thought of as a visionary in Hollywood whose films are always a don’t miss. His latest, the horror film with heart, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, stars Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce and newcomer who steals every scene she’s in, the young Bailee Madison.

Katie Holmes and Bailee Madison in Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

Holmes and del Toro sat down recently to discuss the finer points of their scary film and one thing is immediately obvious: They both believe Madison will be a star audiences will be hearing about for decades.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark follows an unmarried couple Alex and Kim (Pearce and Holmes) who live in a Rhode Island mansion that they are renovating with hopes of selling. When Alex’s daughter Sally (Madison) comes to live with them from L.A., her presence unleashes something downright demonic in the house that will not only haunt the three of them, but forever change their lives and shake their souls to its core.

Movie Fanatic: Katie, what made you want to play the role of Kim?

Katie Holmes: I am a huge fan of Guillermo’s first of all. So, I was very honored. I love the characters in this film. They are very real. Kim is such a strong female character who goes on a very real journey. I loved where she started and where she ends up. I loved the moments where she bonded with Sally. I like horror movies and this had great emotional tension. I felt like the whole thing was very exciting.

Movie Fanatic: Speaking of Sally, Bailey the actress, how did you find her and how did you know she was the perfect one?

Guillermo del Toro: I wish we could take credit for all of that. But we can’t. We auditioned a lot of girls. Alfonso Cuaron is good friends with Natalie Portman, and Natalie said that, “I know that you guys are looking for a girl. This is the girl.” They had done Brothers together. We thought we would go on that recommendation alone. We read Bailey and it’s like discovering Area 51 [laughs]. It’s like discovering an entire alien world of joy. She’s a perfect actor. It’s uncanny to find an actor that good at that age that has such control of her craft.

Bailey Madison in Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

Movie Fanatic: Katie, you also started acting really young. Could you talk about working with Bailey?

Katie Holmes: I had a wonderful time working with Bailey. She is such a professional. She’s so talented and lovely. There was great joy on set and I loved every minute of it. I did start young, not as young as her, but she’s really her own person. She’s terrific. We’re going to see so many of her projects to come.

Movie Fanatic: You play a maternal role in Kim, was that easy for you to identify with? And also, there’s an unspoken theory that your character has had a rough childhood too.

Katie Holmes: It is hinted in the movie that Kim’s troubled childhood is the cause of her not wanting to immediately bond with Sally — definitely not wanting to be a mother. What is great about these two characters is they come to understand each other and they become companions and comrades — even more so than mother daughter. I think that what I found identifiable in terms of Sally, when I was a little girl, sometimes when you’re a child, people don’t listen and don’t take you seriously. They don’t realize that you’re listening and you know way more of what’s going on than they think you do. That is one of the themes and what is explored in this film.

Guillermo del Toro: One of the beauties of the character of Kim for me is that she is even more than a mother. Using that same analogy, but I think it is more powerful than that. Because a mother has biologically and socially no choice but to be there, there is an obligation. Kim’s journey is all by choice and by mercy and by compassion, love and empathy. She says, “No, no, no.” But then, she realizes that… wait, this girl’s in trouble. It’s instinctive for her to help Sally. It’s the earmark of a good heart. When you are evil or good by choice it is ten times more apparent who you are than when it is by circumstance. Kim sees she Sally has no one and decides to stick by her.

Guillermo del Toro in Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

Movie Fanatic: Guillermo, why did you want to just write and produce, and not direct Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark?

Guillermo del Toro: I wrote Don’t Be Afraid before Pan’s Labyrinth and I think there were scenes in Pan’s Labyrinth that were in there. A small child moves into a home with one step parent. The child is called in the night by a voice and goes into this secret garden that covers a secret entrance to a secret place where creatures live. That is where the similarities end. After that, in Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, it’s a war. Because of those similarities, I didn’t want to direct Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. I decided to just produce it. Both of them are fairy tales gone wrong.