Don't Be Afraid of the Dark follows Sally, a little girl who's sent to live with her father and his girlfriend at Blackwood Manor, a very old (and somewhat creepy) manor house which they are renovating with a view to selling on. Sally, unhappy with feeling unhappy and unloved after her mother "sent her away" soon gets herself into trouble, finding a previously hidden cellar door in the overgrown grounds of the house which belongs to the previous owner - whose son disappeared without a trace many years prior, only to shortly disappear himself.
Sally hears voices whispering to her from the fireplace, asking to be let out so they can be her friend, feeling lonely she does so - but soon realises that the last thing the voices want is to be her friend, but rather to harm her.
The story itself is pretty good in my opinion, there's nothing wrong with a "traditional" horror movie. Of course we've all seen a haunted house movie before and it's nothing new but that doesn't mean it can't be good! And in this sense, I did enjoy this for what it was - a good, old fashioned horror flick.
But! The movie has three fatal flaws for me:
1. There's a difference between traditional and stereotyped and cliché - this really does cross the line into the later. There's the weird caretaker, who's really the good guy, there's the hidden collection of books at the local library that "explain all", there's the something moving under the bed sheets scene and the bathroom scene. The problem is NONE of it is new, unexpected or even just extremely well done.
2. The "monsters" aren't scary! You spend the first half hour, desperate to see the source of the eerie voice and when you do you're left under whelmed - it's like play doe gremlins! After seeing them for the first time, I just kept thinking "Oh come on, just squash them!" I'm sure given all of the special effects possible in this day and age; something better could have been managed.
3. None of the main characters are likeable. Sally is a very aloof child and to begin with you find yourself quite irritated with her. Her father is not just indifferent, he's negligent and the girlfriend, although probably the most likeable of the bunch is unfortunately played by Katie Holmes, who is fast winning my vote for worst actress to make it on to the big screen.
I did enjoy this movie, it was "OK" overall but true horror fans will probably find this overdone and unoriginal. It's a struggle to understand why you'd choose to re-do an old horror movie like this one and not do it better than before but that's exactly what this is - more of the same!