Vaulted ceilings, creepy basements and old paintings. It is one scary mansion in “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”. Kim (Katie Holmes) and Alex (Guy Pearce) are a happy couple who are restoring an old mansion to its original time period and hoping to gain notary for their hard work. Kim and Alex are very passionate about the restoration and are working night and day. When Alex’s daughter Sally (Bailee Madison) is shipped to live with her father things get complicated. As any young child would feel overwhelmed in new surroundings, let alone a spooky mansion Sally does not adjust well. After exploring the grounds Sally finds a window that leads to a basement that Kim and Alex knew nothing about.
Excited to see what may be down there they quickly knock down a wall and find a door to access the basement. Down there they find an interesting rustic area where the former owner, who was an artist, did most of his work. Sally who is quick to check out the new area begins to hear voices from the room. Her curiosity gets the best of her and she takes tools down to the basement and the voice tells her to let her out to play. Sally begins to remove bolts from an old fire ash pit. Her attempts are abruptly interrupted by her father who has concerns about her playing downstairs where it could be dangerous.
The damage has already been done. An evil force is able to remove the door and escape. Not long after strange events begin to happen, from Kim’s dress being cut to shreds and Sally being attacked by small creatures. Sally is terrified and wants to move but Alex has doubts about what his daughter is saying, while Kim has real concerns. “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” is a frightening tale for anyone who has been in an older home and heard those creaks in the night. Even more terrifying for someone with a young child who can imagine what a youngster may be afraid of in the dark and having those fears come true. Bailee Madison has a good breakout performance as the scared little girl with a dark side herself. Katie Holmes comes back to the big screen and shows her motherly side. I found Alex’s (Guy Pearce) disregard for his daughter to be a little unbelievable and over the top. Most of the instances in the story were farfetched and ridiculous. The surroundings made the movie and gave it an eerie effect, but overall the storyline lacked substance to be a true horror film.