Metascore
56

Mixed or average reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 35
  2. Negative: 3 out of 35
  1. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Aug 24, 2011
    88
    This is a very good haunted house film. It milks our frustration deliciously.
  2. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Aug 25, 2011
    78
    The fact that Troy Nixey's debut feature is one creepyass frightmare is what matters, and boy, does he put the nail in that metaphorical coffin the first time out. It's not perfect, but it's awfully close.
  3. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Aug 26, 2011
    75
    Harks back to a 1960s idea of what a horror film should be.
  4. Reviewed by: Matthew Hays
    Aug 25, 2011
    75
    This is still a seriously entertaining horror movie, one that will please newcomers as well as fans of the original oddity. But by the end of the film, I was wishing the filmmakers had left us wondering about precisely who and what these critters were just a little bit longer.
  5. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    Aug 25, 2011
    75
    Feels retro in all the right ways; it's a bump-in-the-night tale that, if not for the occasional glimpse of a cellphone or reference to Adderall, could have been told decades ago.
  6. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Aug 25, 2011
    75
    The movie is deliciously creepy even if it does exhibit some issues that keep it from being a top-notch example of "things that go bump in the night" horror.
  7. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Aug 25, 2011
    70
    Some of the knife-twisting later scenes in "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" feel almost campy, like winks at the audience or studious self-referentiality. None of this is quite enough to ruin a gripping, gruesome fable, which of course del Toro's fans and other genre buffs will rush out to see, but it does render the movie a minor muddle rather than a horror masterwork.
  8. Reviewed by: Michael Wilmington
    Aug 25, 2011
    70
    The remake plays like a shallower, more clichéd variation on his masterpiece, "Pan's Labyrinth," but its mix of gory effects and deliciously old-fashioned visuals make for a classy, scary horror show.
  9. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Aug 26, 2011
    67
    Largely a cut-and-paste affair, although useful for that very reason; it provides a glaring reminder that scary movies have evolved, both in terms of style and expectations, but the evolution isn't worth the effort.
  10. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Aug 24, 2011
    67
    Absent any qualities beyond the surface, like the history and politics that trouble Del Toro's best films, Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark is little better than a half-decent scare machine.
  11. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Aug 26, 2011
    63
    One major reason it succeeds is because of 11-year-old actress Bailee Madison, who brings a wonderful believability to her role as the girl at the center of the film.
  12. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Aug 24, 2011
    63
    Entirely too literal, but it still manages to be a literally hair-raising piece of modern-style old school Gothic horror.
  13. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Aug 30, 2011
    60
    When the monsters finally show themselves, this potent theme is lost amid a lot of proficiently staged but insubstantial scare scenes - heavy on musical stingers and weightless CGI.
  14. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Aug 25, 2011
    60
    Del Toro loves his creatures. Maybe he loves them too much: He always wants us to get a good look at them, and that's one of the things that saps the spookiness from this Don't Be Afraid of the Dark.
  15. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Aug 25, 2011
    60
    If you flinch at "boo," you'll find plenty to jump at here. Just don't expect striking originality, or even genuinely memorable eeriness. Still, every time "Dark" starts to feel like a generic thriller, it's saved by the distinctive stamp of co-screenwriter/producer Guillermo del Toro.
  16. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Aug 25, 2011
    60
    Wants to scare you, but it can't quite seal the deal.
  17. Reviewed by: Chuck Wilson
    Aug 23, 2011
    60
    If the grand finale isn't as resonantly scary as the original's, maybe that's just because, try though we might, we're no longer impressionable kids.
  18. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Aug 24, 2011
    58
    Curled up at home with the lights off and DVD player running, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark might be passable fun. Spread over a movie screen, the film's modest ambition gets dwarfed by expectations, especially after paying for a ticket.
  19. Reviewed by: Ian Buckwalter
    Aug 25, 2011
    55
    Eventually, too little is left to the imagination to do what it does best: fill in the gaps with visions far more frightening than anything a filmmaker could put onscreen.
  20. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Aug 25, 2011
    50
    Mr. Nixey is doing an Alfred Hitchcock homage within a movie lacking anything as subversive, or skilled, as Hitchcock.
  21. Reviewed by: Amy Biancolli
    Aug 25, 2011
    50
    All of this amounts to so much stylish nostalgia - not half as repulsive as the splatterific torture porn currently dominating the horror genre, and not half as cynical, either.
  22. Reviewed by: Jeannette Catsoulis
    Aug 25, 2011
    50
    None of Mr. del Toro's classy fiddling, however, can improve on the original's marvelously economical scares. But if you've always wondered what the tooth fairies want with all those teeth - or if you just need proof that a terrified Katie Holmes looks not that different from the everyday version - this is the movie for you.
  23. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Aug 25, 2011
    50
    This insipid wannabe frightener features a checklist of derivative conventions.
  24. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Aug 25, 2011
    50
    With Del Toro's name in the credits, standard chills aren't enough. We want imagination to run riot.
  25. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Aug 25, 2011
    50
    Joltingly graphic and atmospheric (Nixey and his crew at least know how to set up a few good shocks), Don't Be Afraid of the Dark fails to involve us in any meaningful way with its characters.
  26. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Aug 25, 2011
    50
    A big part of the problem comes in the casting. Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes - the kind of odd pairing of actors that comes only after your first and second choices have passed - are unconvincing and curiously unsympathetic as the architect Alex and his girlfriend.
  27. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Aug 25, 2011
    50
    To my taste there's too much of everything. The soundtrack never shuts up with the wind, the murmurings, the shudderings. And while director Nixey has talent, his indiscriminately roving camera tends to diffuse the tension, not heighten it.
  28. Reviewed by: Pete Hammond
    Aug 19, 2011
    50
    Blame director Troy Nixey for lacking the touch, or blame the basic material which is better suited to TV - either way, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark never gets you jumping out of your seat.
  29. Reviewed by: Kirk Honeycutt
    Aug 15, 2011
    50
    The result is a scary movie that is genuinely scary in parts, although an adult can't help noticing this is set in the very worn and tattered territory of the haunted-house genre. Then when you get a glimpse of the CGI critters causing all the mayhem, the scares completely vanish.
  30. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Aug 15, 2011
    50
    Rather than trying to frighten adults, this entire R-rated exercise feels engineered to emotionally scar any younger audiences who should happen to see it -- much as the original did del Toro back in the day.
  31. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Aug 24, 2011
    42
    Neither colorfully brutal nor especially fun. It's a plodding, derivative gothic potboiler: "The Shining" meets "Coraline," with a touch of "Gremlins" played (boringly) straight.
  32. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Aug 25, 2011
    40
    Really, truly, very scary … At least until about 30 minutes in, when you start to be distracted by the lack of logic in the storytelling and the fact that the nasty little gremlins responsible for all the bumps in the night can be offed pretty easily.
  33. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Aug 25, 2011
    38
    While there are moments of eldritch atmosphere and a few pro forma jolts, nothing here justifies our attention, let alone the film's inexplicable R rating.
  34. Reviewed by: Melissa Lafsky
    Aug 24, 2011
    38
    It just goes to show, no matter how burnished your backdrop or splendiferous your setting, if your script is crap, you're stuck with a total dud.
  35. Reviewed by: Ed Gonzalez
    Aug 22, 2011
    38
    Does Katie Holmes's hubby get script-doctoring rights even on her own film projects? That would explain why Troy Nixey's inane Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, co-written and produced by Guillermo del Toro, at times suggests an anti-Rx PSA.
User Score
5.4

Mixed or average reviews- based on 105 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 38
  2. Negative: 9 out of 38
  1. Dec 15, 2011
    5
    Horror movies don't have to be scary, but if they're going for the chills, they have to do one thing at least. They can't blatantly show theHorror movies don't have to be scary, but if they're going for the chills, they have to do one thing at least. They can't blatantly show the antagonists. This is a mistake "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" makes, and it completely kills the movie. Early on, the film is decently creepy. We get a very disturbing opener, but 30 minutes in the creatures come out to "play" and we get to see every bit of them. By seeing the creatures, "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" turns into an incoherent fantasy masquerading as a horror film. Another thing that bothered me was the little girl, Sally. Bailee Madison is a terrific actress, but her character is forced to make so many illogical choices that it's hard to appreciate what she does here. After she has been attacked by these creatures in a way that would force any child into therapy, her character pleasantly takes a bath and doesn't seem to mind that she's vulnerable and alone. What child does that? It's these inconsistencies that take us out of the situation. On the positive side, the cinematography is alright and the performances are all fairly strong. Katie Holmes, who is an average actress through and through, gives one of her best performances here as a concerned girlfriend of Guy Pearce. But there's not really much to appreciate here. If you want to catch a horror flick, see the new "Fright Night." It's not scary either, but it's a heck of a lot of fun. Full Review »
  2. Aug 28, 2011
    3
    Guillermo del Toro prefers his fairy tales to contain a certain amount of artistic fantasy, wonder, and even violence. Children today areGuillermo del Toro prefers his fairy tales to contain a certain amount of artistic fantasy, wonder, and even violence. Children today are exposed to a kinder, gentler sort of fairy tale than they were a few centuries ago when they were much more graphic and held dire warnings for wayward children. In the past, del Toro has successfully revived those stronger veins of story. Donâ Full Review »
  3. Apr 8, 2012
    2
    08-15-Movie without any exciting Scenes. Little fairies from the Underworld looking like some kind of ugly rats? After you saw the08-15-Movie without any exciting Scenes. Little fairies from the Underworld looking like some kind of ugly rats? After you saw the antagonists, there was no more sense to watch the movie to the end... Full Review »