DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (R for some bloody violence, plenty of scariness & terror): Adapted by Guillermo de Toro from a 1973 TV movie, this technically hyped-up version pays tribute to the things-that-go-bump-in-the-night slasher/horror flicks of the 70s, with "Oh, no's" and "Look out's" aplenty. A little girl, Sally (Bailee Madison) is forced to move in with her father (Guy Pearce) & his girlfriend (Katie Holmes) while they renovate an old mansion. It isn't long before lonely & much too curious Sally starts hearing things & seeing Gremlin-like malevolent critters creeping in the shadows. The first half of this transparently familiar plot - girl probes around on her own, barely escapes one horrible confrontation after another as doors squeak ominously & slam suddenly, floors creak, shadows hide mysterious shapes, piercing shrieks send shivers - all the while people become stabbed or eviscerated, the horror building to the ubiquitous terrifying conclusion when all hell breaks loose.
As with the original matrix, details must be taken with a great deal of salt and a huge suspension of logic, while a secondary plot, that of Sally learning to live simultaneously with her newly accepted guardians & the ugly, darting widgets (they come & go at the will of the script) moves rapidly on. A capable cast is capably directed by Troy Nixey, who understands the format & together with the shadowy camera work by Oliver Stapleton and with Marco Beltrami/Buck Sanders' eerie music, at least the first half of the film is suspenseful & absorbing. Later, as the momentum and action increase, it all becomes sillier & sillier until, when the 100-minutes run their time, there's not much left but a neat wrap-up and suggestion that there just might be a sequel in the offing.
If you can forgive the second part's downward trend and simply enjoy this as a rather accurate updating of the old horror flick trend, then this is the movie for you. (Grade: C+)