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Movie Review

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

MPAA Rating: R for violence and terror.

Review coming from Contributor: Pamela Gardner

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Horror Thriller Remake
1 hr. 39 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
August 26, 2011 (wide—2,400+ theaters)
DVD: January 3, 2012
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, FilmDistrict

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

AFRAID OF THE DARK—How can I help my child to trust in God's care when she is afraid at night? Answer

Featuring: Katie HolmesKim
Guy PearceAlex Hirst
Bailee Madison … Sally Hirst
Alan Dale … Jacoby
more »
Director: Troy Nixey
Producer: Gran Via
Miramax Films
Tequila Gang
Guillermo del Toro … producer
more »
Distributor: FilmDistrict

“They don’t want you, but WE do!”

“Don’t be afraid of the Dark” reveals the dark mythological origins of tooth fairies. It begins with an intense scene of a man offering teeth to creatures in the basement. Fast forward to a young girl named Sally (Bailee Madison) traveling on a plane to live with her dad Alex (Guy Pearce) and his live-in girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes). Alex is renovating the old mansion from the opening scene; Sally is not content with the new living situation and goes exploring the new ground where she comes across the basement, and there she begins to hear voices from a furnace door. From there the story unfolds.

The acting by Holmes and Madison is, at times, believable, but still inconsistent. Pearce keeps up the pace with few lines excelling above fellow cast members; the smaller supporting roles are also well played. I must admit, I did jump a time or two, but the film isn’t scary or a horror, in the real sense. In fact, this maybe one of the few Hollywood films that I felt didn’t earn its “R” rating.

Content of concern

There are a couple of moderately gruesome scenes, involving blood and violence, that I feel earned a PG-13, at best. As for sexuality, Alex and Kim are unmarried, but are shown kissing and sleeping in the same bed. There are a couple blasphemies, including Jesus used as blasphemy and OG.

Biblically, besides rethinking the use of the tooth fairy myth, the film dealt with fear in a real way. We as Christians do fear God, but in the form of awe, reverence, and love of the Creator of all things (Psalm 111:1; Proverbs 14:26-27; 19:23). The Bible (Isaiah 40:10) literally calls us to fear not, for He is with us, and he does not give us the spirit of fear.

As for a recommendation, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” is sort of a toss-up. The content is not nearly as offensive as most other rated R films, but the story isn’t super great or very scary, and I felt somewhat alienated from the characters and story altogether.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—This was one hell of a scary movie! I loved it! So much scary moments; I was jumping out of my seat so much! I saw the original one that came out in 1971, but I thought this one was a lot scarier. I’d definitely recommend it to people who love horror films!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Chuck, age 20 (USA)


Comments from young people
Neutral—I had very mixed thoughts on this movie. It wasn’t as frightening as the trailer portrays and the little creatures Sally becomes friends with look more like tiny dementors from “Harry Potter…” mixed with some sort of creature in “The Spiderwick Chronicles.” Other then the fact that I didn’t find it in the least bit scary, the movie was somewhat entertaining, and I didn’t really find any objectionable content. There was some violence, the language was minimal, and there was no sex or nudity. Overall, it was just okay. I’m not jumping out of my seat about it… .
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Aliya Mcreynolds, age 14 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—Let it be known up front that I have not seen this movie. I only want to draw attention to the potentially misleading impression which the “average” moral rating posted atop this review may give. I realize that reviews here are highly subjective. Therefore, please consider this from 2 Timothy 1:7: “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” and also from Ephesians 5:15-16: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

Christians, does God not desire to reveal Himself through us?

Should we then pour darkness and fear into our minds, inviting the enemy instead of the Holy Spirit? Rather, oughtn’t we follow James’s imperative: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”?
—Darin, age 30 (USA)