remake of Don’t be Afraid of the Dark this weekend. It was directed by Troy Nixey (the artist on Dark Horse’s Jenny Finn) but bears the obvious stamp of script-writer and producer Guillermo del Toro.
In brief, both versions involve a couple moving into an old house where a basement fireplace ash-pit door is opened and tiny, malevolent creatures are released (these are, as Roger points out, the obvious inspiration for Fiend Folio’s meenlocks). The creatures set their sights on the one who freed them--a young housewife in the original, a little girl in the remake--and cajole then terrorize before making their move.
The remake has better special effects and more atmosphere, but doesn’t have the same sort of unsettling, ruthless economy of the original. Of course, I saw the original when I was much younger, so it might not evoke the same dread in someone seeing it as an adult for the first time. The remake seems like Nixey and del Toro set out to make a film that could scar the psyches of a new generation of kids, but the MPAA stymied that a bit with an R-rating.
Many of the changes are del Toro’s usual preoccupations. The creatures of the film are explicitly fairies and they have a taste for teeth (recalling the “tooth fairies” of Hellboy II). The grounds of the Blackwood Manor recall Pan’s Labyrinth. These additions at once lessen the horror but add some depth by explicitly connecting it to the traditions of horror fiction and authors like Machen (who gets namechecked in the film).
If you like the work of del Toro or have fond memories of the original TV movie you probably should check this one out. It just probably won't deliver the chills you remember back in the '70s.
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