It's a plodding, derivative gothic potboiler: The Shining meets Coraline, with a touch of Gremlins played (boringly) straight.
Owen Gleiberman - Entertainment Weekly
What they're after is clear from the film's gruesome prologue; what they look like is withheld until long after we have ceased to care.
Jeannette Catsoulis - New York Times
Don't worry about fearing darkness, but beware horror flicks that trot out every hoary cliche.
Claudia Puig - USA Today
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.
Ty Burr - Boston Globe
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.
Chuck Wilson - Village Voice
If you flinch at "boo," you'll find plenty to jump at here. Just don't expect striking originality, or even genuinely memorable eeriness.
Elizabeth Weitzman - New York Daily News
Mr. Nixey is doing an Alfred Hitchcock homage within a movie lacking anything as subversive, or skilled, as Hitchcock.
John Anderson - Wall Street Journal
The film looks good, it sounds great (Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders' score is full of darkly murmuring woodwinds), and Madison is a pip of a lead.
Amy Biancolli - Houston Chronicle
...the moviemakers are refurbishing an older, shabbier piece of workmanship -- and it's a welcome enough place to stay for a few hours.
James Rocchi - MSN Movies
This is a very good haunted house film. It milks our frustration deliciously.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
While director Nixey has talent, his indiscriminately roving camera tends to diffuse the tension, not heighten it.
Michael Phillips - Chicago Tribune
The remake plays like a shallower, more cliched 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.
Michael Wilmington - Chicago Reader
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.
Steven Rea - Philadelphia Inquirer
As a horror film should be, it's gruesome, tension-filled and you can't tear your eyes from the screen. But it's also cruel, quite depressing and utterly sad.
Colin Covert - Minneapolis Star Tribune
Nixey does a nice job of creating a weird, menacing world.
Bill Goodykoontz - Arizona Republic
After announcing he was no longer directing The Hobbit, Mr. Del Toro sustained a blow to his post-Pan's Labyrinth armor, and this washout brings him one step closer to full career rupture.
Melissa Lafsky - New York Observer
A suspenseful yet markedly less insidious update.
Peter Debruge - Variety
"Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" will turn your nerve endings to Popsicles.
Kyle Smith - New York Post
The new version of "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" is entirely too literal, but it still manages to be a literally hair-raising piece of modern-style old school Gothic horror.
Roger Moore - Orlando Sentinel
This artless film even approaches child abuse, in the way it crassly reconfigures the protagonist from the besieged adult woman of the original into a neglected and terrified tot.
Peter Howell - Toronto Star
A welcome alternative to the current genre offerings, steeped in old-fashioned atmosphere and faithful to haunted house routine, albeit to a fault.
William Goss - Film.com
This is still a seriously entertaining horror movie, one that will please newcomers as well as fans of the original oddity.
Matthew Hays - Globe and Mail
This is an above-average horror flick by any measure, nicely directed by del Toro protege Troy Nixey in an atmospheric, unshowy style that recalls cheapo '70s cinema without mimicking it.
Andrew O'Hehir - Salon.com
Nixey steeps everything in a surfeit of atmosphere. It overflows. It suffuses every frame. It seeps off the screen and into the auditorium.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
A scary film where the scares peter out far too quickly.
Kirk Honeycutt - Hollywood Reporter
The tension del Toro and Nixey create promises much more than it delivers.
David Germain - Associated Press
The film never takes hold emotionally, despite strong work from Holmes and young Madison. With Del Toro's name in the credits, standard chills aren't enough.
Peter Travers - Rolling Stone
"Don't Be Afraid of the Dark," expands upon the creepy and effective TV movie from 1973.
Richard Roeper - Richard Roeper.com
I do hope that "Don't" doesn't do Nixey in, as he has a real knack for staging high anxiety. For Del Toro, the question is, what happened?
Betsy Sharkey - Los Angeles Times
The thoroughly unsympathetic protagonist aside, "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" just isn't that frightening.
Martin Tsai - Critic's Notebook
There's a simple sense of old-fashioned restraint that makes Sally's dark journey a little bit quiet, but also subtly satisfying.
Straddled uncomfortably between its modest premise and reckless CGI abandon.
Sean Burns - Philadelphia Weekly
If the scares aren't all quite as effective as the rest of the film, then there's still plenty to tickle the nerves of a less jaded horror fan.
Glenn Dunks - Trespass
Completists of del Toro will want to check it out as a curio but it's hard to imagine general audiences or even horror fans finding anything here they haven't seen before.
Cory Everett - The Playlist
Guillermo del Toro's Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is as murky and ill-conceived as its multitude of dimly-lit corners,
Amy Curtis - We Got This Covered
Brent Simon - Shared Darkness
Richard Roeper - ReelzChannel.com
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark might not play as well for adults, but younger audiences (namely preteens) will likely enjoy the hell out of this one.
R. L. Shaffer - IGN DVD
With the exception of the opening segment this remake can't hold a candle to its chintzy but decidedly more satisfying forebear.
Richard Knight - Knight at the Movies
In this hyperactive digital age, "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" is almost antiquated in its approach to horror. And that is its greatest strength.
Greg Maki - Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)
Every week, it seems, I watch a remake, or a 'reimagining,' of a feature film that didn't need to be remade. Now here's a remake of, I swear, a made-for-TV movie (starring Kim Darby, incidentally) from the 1970s.
Linda Cook - KWQC-TV (Iowa)
ola exoyne mia safh epirroh apo Spielberg thn opoia o Nixey denei sxedon arista me to gotthiko, zwntano arxontiko poy eixe sto myalo toy, asxeta an parallhla se aifnidiazei me th.. mh Del Toro-ikothta toy
Joseph Proimakis - Movies for the Masses
It's not a question of whether the dark is something worth being afraid of, but whether or not it will actually put you to sleep.
Tom Clift - Moviedex
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is horror by-the-numbers. Parts of it are effectively chilling, and the performances are fine, but there's no sense of reality.
Paul Byrnes - Sydney Morning Herald
A remake of a film del Toro says frightened him as a child, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark suffers from a very grown-up need to answer all the questions and the result is more Gremlins than Grimm.
Dale Rolfe - MovieFIX
The notion that cliches become cliches because they work every time is writ large in Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, a film that does everything right but nothing new.
Simon Foster - sbs.com.au
The formula is all too predictably followed
Andrew L. Urban - Urban Cinefile
There are a few genuine scares in this fantasy horror movie produced and co-written by Guillermo del Toro, although it smacks of melodrama and manipulation
Louise Keller - Urban Cinefile
Dont Be Afraid Of The Dark will remind viewers to tuck their feet in at night but is unlikely to terrify any hardcore horror fans.
The irony, of course, is that you should be afraid of the dark. And you will be, after watching this scary horror film.
Roz Laws - Birmingham Post
A film that'll give you second thoughts about relocating to that country pile.
Calvin Baxter - SFX Magazine
It's watchable enough and elegantly staged, but it's an Amityville Horror with delusions of grandeur.
Philip French - Observer [UK]
The old dark house is exactly the sort of place where you'd expect scary things to happen. The only trouble is that the monsters are cute rather than scary.
David Edwards - Daily Mirror [UK]
Though artfully shot, the set up never threatens to develop any real tension.
Graham Young - Birmingham Mail
Del Toro's influence is apparent in the CGI of the bulbous-headed goblins, but the story has none of the shiver-inducing otherness of Pan's Labyrinth.
Anthony Quinn - Independent
Decently produced and acted, and the demons are creepy - but this is no Pan's Labyrinth and ends up a mite predictable.
Derek Malcolm - This is London
You'll never think of the Tooth Fairy in the same way again after seeing this.
Christopher Tookey - Daily Mail [UK]
A minor Del Toro, perhaps, but a must for his fans.
All told, it's about as scary as The Tigger Movie.
Tim Robey - Daily Telegraph
It's more silly than scary with not enough plot and surprise but the cast are good.
Henry Fitzherbert - Daily Express
Firmly old school in its feel, this has plenty of hide-behind-your-hands moments...
Tim Evans - Digital Spy
Boasting some impressive visual effects, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is nicely acted, atmospheric and genuinely creepy in places, but it's ultimately let down by some weak plotting and the fact that it plays its hand too early...
Matthew Turner - ViewLondon
Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark is all-encapsulatingly scary, but not perhaps in the way you might have expected.
Sam Bathe - Fan The Fire
There is so much here that one admires, one wishes that there was more to love.
Nigel Floyd - Time Out
A satisfying, well-crafted supernatural horror movie, refreshingly retro in its Gothic trappings. It won't traumatise a generation, but it certainly delivers the shivers.
- Empire Magazine
Well-crafted and ambitious, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark doesn't quite click.
Robert Denerstein - Movie Habit
An intimate ankle biter vs. ankle biters battle of flashbulbs, sharp things, and suspense.
Kevin A. Ranson - MovieCrypt.com
The design is key here. The huge house, as well as some haunting artwork, adds character and a slightly otherworldly mood.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - Common Sense Media
If you like creepy movies that are a bit grisly, this is better than most films of this ilk. All the talent that went into this does show.
Robert Roten - Laramie Movie Scope
A rather yawning exercise in genre literalism; the general feeling that emerges is that something much more interesting could have been done with the same concept.
Brent Simon - Screen International
Del Toro rounded out and deepened the backstory from the original, but it's still a pretty simple horror movie...spooky atmosphere is just right -- even if he does give away too much of the creatures too soon.
Eric Melin - Scene-Stealers.com
The monsters show a definite affection for knives and razors and scissors, all the better to slash and penetrate their victims.
Cynthia Fuchs - PopMatters
More interested in creeping you out than it is in making you jump or wince.
Ken Hanke - Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
The surroundings made the movie and gave it an eerie effect, but overall the storyline lacked substance to be a true horror film.
Jolene Mendez - Entertainment Spectrum
A movie painted in oils but written in crayon.
Ed Whitfield - The Ooh Tray
The plot plays like a humorless remix of Coraline and Gremlins, with the predictable human interactions dragging the story down. But that doesn't mean it isn't creepy.
Jeff Meyers - Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
With Nixey directing and Del Toro writing/producing, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark drips with fiendish fun from creators who adore things that go bump in the night.
Sean Edgar - Paste Magazine
There's a lot more territory here that could have been mined but wasn't, which is a shame. But for those just looking to be scared the old fashioned way, Dark delivers.
Brett McCracken - Christianity Today
The entire picture has a perfect balance, and is a great way to usher in the fall.
Grae Drake - Movies.com
... more laughable than scary ...
Jim Lane - Sacramento News & Review
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark doesn't fully exploit its R rating and leaves you a bit frustrated. But there is enough promise and lush style on display to make me seek out Nixey's next film.
Beth Accomando - KPBS.org
Forget the Freudian analysis ... All you want to know: Is it scary? Yes, especially when Sally ducks under the sheets and comes nose-to-nose with the gnome leader. Think "Sixth Sense" scary ...
Glenn Lovell - CinemaDope
It's like a kitchen that smells amazing, but every time you take a bite of food, it's completely flavorless.
Jeff Bayer - The Scorecard Review
'How many quarts of Haagen-Dazs can I throw up into that bottomless hole?' Katie asked.
Mark Ramsey - MovieJuice!
the best scenes are those that rely entirely on suggestion, giving us the impression of presence without actually showing us anything, and they become unfortunately less and less frequent as the film moves along
James Kendrick - Q Network Film Desk
It's as creepy as it needs to be, and not even remotely as creepy as its asinine R-rating would indicate, and it's pretty shallow beyond that.
Tim Brayton - Antagony & Ecstasy
The three main characters are gloomy and brooding and that affects the movie. There's too much brooding and not enough fear.
Jackie K. Cooper - jackiekcooper.com
The finale doesn't live up to the first act, but still a nice old-fashioned horror story with plenty of atmosphere.
Scott Nash - Three Movie Buffs
Does an admirable job maintaining an ominous tone, and young Bailee Madison gives a natural, unaffected central performance.
Eric D. Snider - EricDSnider.com
...a lot of the scares are basically Horror Movie 101. I would LOVE to have seen what del Toro would do with it.
Michael A. Smith - MediaMikes
By the end of the film, the impressively realized creatures have been revealed in so much detail that we recognize them to be assignments from an artist's workshop and computer, not escapees from a nightmare.
John Beifuss - Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark might not make viewers forget the television original they grew up with, but has enough under the skin creepiness to entertain those simply looking for a good fright at the movie theatre.
Diva Velez - TheDivaReview.com
In the 99 very slow minutes an expected jump or two is about all you get. And they're not even that good.
Gary Wolcott - Tri-City Herald
craftily pushes the audience's emotional buttons in visceral ways that deftly heighten the supernatural embellishments
Andrea Chase - Killer Movie Reviews
It's got some good performances, stylish set design and piecemeal treats, but they never add up to a cumulative chill. Honestly, the most horrifying thing about it is its use of Comic Sans in the end credits.
Nick Rogers - Suite101.com
Fine performances, a wonderful gothic look, and frightening creatures contribute to the scare factor of this quality horror movie.
Betty Jo Tucker - ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Horror fans can look past a whole lot of stupidity in their favorite genre. But Don't Be Afraid of the Dark simply asks too much of us.
Christian Toto - What Would Toto Watch?
There's scary to be found in this premise, but there's none to be found in the film itself.
Matthew Razak - Flixist.com
The muted photography, which already looks as if it's been blown up for a drive-in screen, joins together with the loud bass-violin score to produce something amusingly retro.
Rob Gonsalves - eFilmCritic.com
a considerable achievement for a first-time director - but while [Nixey] makes a convincing mimic of the del Toro style, he fails to import the sort of political allegory that gives the Mexican director's other works their real substance.
Anton Bitel - Little White Lies
Suspenseful and scary, this remake is filled with spooky, supernatural terror.
Susan Granger - SSG Syndicate
Blends together a psychological fairy tale with a horror story that has aesthetic value but never hits one in the guts to make you wince.
Dennis Schwartz - Ozus' World Movie Reviews
A delightfully spooky funhouse, more than up to the challenge of ushering the summer of 2011 to a close.
Rob Vaux - Mania.com
Heavy on atmosphere but light on scares.
Thomas Leupp - Hollywood.com
Provides some old-school scares that may well leave you listening for skittering sounds every night for the rest of your life.
Will Harris - Bullz-Eye.com
A little creepy, a little goofy, and a lot like Gremlins.
Tricia Olszewski - Washington City Paper
It's not awful, this Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, but the world is already full-to-bursting with not-awful.
Walter Chaw - Film Freak Central
Much like its pedestrian title, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark fails to really scare.
Jane Stevenson - Jam! Movies
The key decision in a film like this is how soon to reveal the monsters, and how clearly to show them. Usually the more you see them the less terrifying they get to be, although these rodent-like creatures remain pretty fearsome...
Leonard Maltin - Leonard Maltin's Picks
'Dark' falls into many trappings that ruin a horror movie: Characters who stupidly refuse to leave a haunted house? Check! All gloss and no scares? Check! A spooky brunette child? Check! Previews that are better than the movie? Check!
Clay Cane - BET.com
Decent, but not consistently strong and -- at least in the case of our screening -- ruined by an obnoxious audience that didn't fully understand what sort of pic they were really seeing. (Full Content Parental Review also available)
Jim Judy - Screen It!
Be 'Afraid' Be Very Afraid
James Verniere - Boston Herald
Despite all the care that has been put into it, the film doesn't transcend its dime-store horror roots.
Rene Rodriguez - Miami Herald
It effectively exploits our primal suspicions that there might be something under the bed and that our houses do not go to sleep when we do.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
The season's scariest horror film - and, depending on what the next few months bring, perhaps the year's.
Stephen Whitty - Newark Star-Ledger
Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark is a lyrical, stunning-looking film, that's entertaining, with a sense of fun, a rich mythology and a few great moments but essentially it's nothing you haven't seen before.
- Total Film
In its best moments, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark resembles a modern version of an original Grimm's fairy tale.
Ethan Alter - Television Without Pity
There are Gothic elements that work, but the story simply isn't strong enough to support a remake and lackluster direction fails to iron out the flaws in this potential horror hit.
Brian Tallerico - The Deadbolt
Occasional visitors into the haunted house fray may want to peek their head in, if only to see how quickly they peek out.
Erik Childress - eFilmCritic.com
It relies on cliche, but director Troy Nixey gives us enough teases and frights.
Willie Waffle - WaffleMovies.com
Despite a handful of hiccups and a smattering of cliches, it does exactly what it sets out to do: It ratchets up the tension, then sustains it for an hour and a half.
Mike Scott - Times-Picayune
One creepy little movie.
Jonathan W. Hickman - Daily Film Fix
The scariest aspect might be Guy Pearce's black hair dye, which appears to have been sprayed on a la one of those old TV after-midnight infomercials.
Brandon Judell - CultureCatch
It's all very good-looking and you don't need gore to sell a good horror flick, but you do need something in its place, like suspense. You won't be afraid of this film.
Shaun Munro - What Culture
Maybe it's not one of his very best haunted house stories, but it's del Toro, so it's still entertaining.
Eric Goldman - IGN Movies
"Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" quickly loses steam when the creatures are fully visible and make frequent appearances.
David Kaplan - Kaplan vs. Kaplan
There's a serious disconnect between the highfalutin atmospherics and the nitty gritty sloppiness of the premise.
Robert Levin - Film School Rejects
Works its way under the skin with a sophistication not often seen anymore in today's horror pictures.
While not as instantly white-knuckle scary as one might hope, director Troy Nixey's monsters deliver a creepiness that lingers in the mind.
Luke Y. Thompson - E! Online
There's no denying that his latest monsters are imaginative and detailed creations, but the haunted house-style story is hampered by his desire to show them off.
Ian Buckwalter - NPR
Just when you thought the housing market couldn't get more frightening, along comes Guillermo del Toro to shiver more timbers.
Randy Myers - Contra Costa Times
If there's one big flaw with Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, it's that in 2011, there's only so long that we can watch movie characters face the perils of a haunted house without thinking, "GET OUT ALREADY!"
It's the sort of movie that leaves you more impressed with artistry than moved to poop by the proceedings.
Gary Thompson - Philadelphia Daily News
Looming mansions, dour little girls, and things that go bump in the night... what's not to love?
Marc Savlov - Austin Chronicle
While the end of "Don't Be Afraid" is creepy, it's far from emotionally satisfying.
Tom Keogh - Seattle Times
reverent, respectful...and relatively unnecessary
Bill Gibron - Filmcritic.com
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.
Stephanie Zacharek - Movieline
If you aren't generally scared by CGI goblins who whisper a lot, the title's warning is sadly unneeded - you won't be afraid of Don't Be Afraid of the Dark.
Brian Juergens - CampBlood.org
Lush and creepy, this traditional haunted-house film becomes repetitive during its second half.
Sarah Sluis - Film Journal International
If Gollum and the Tooth Fairy got together and spawned a horde of young'uns, they might resemble the terrible little creatures here...
Josh Larsen - LarsenOnFilm
Provides more than enough dread, accentuated by the chilling clickety-clack of little beasts waiting to strike, to turn nonsense into nightmares.
Matt Pais - RedEye
This old school monster movie from producer Guillermo del Toro is well-shot and well-acted, but its creatures, like its title, are frightfully innocuous.
Joe Lozito - Big Picture Big Sound
This inventive horror film plays to our deepest childhood fears. It's like a demented variation on The Borrowers, and first-rate acting and effects work combine to thoroughly creep us out.
Rich Cline - Shadows on the Wall
Though Nixey carries it across with some style, some intensity, and some graphic imagination, the whole isn't quite the sum of its somes.
Scott Tobias - AV Club
The fun kind of horror movie - scary, and violent, and dark as you like, but not mean, if you get me.
Eugene Novikov - Film Blather
Far from scary, these little nasties move between unintentionally funny and obnoxious.
Mark Dujsik - Mark Reviews Movies
It does a very good job of what it sets out to do, which is to send enough chills down the spines of viewers to make air conditioning in the multiplex superfluous.
Peter Sobczynski - eFilmCritic.com
The creatures look and sound completely silly, and instead of scary and dangerous, they just seem goofy.
Josh Bell - Las Vegas Weekly
Lukewarm late-summer horror flick. Too tame to please hardcore horror fans, and too ham-fisted to please anyone else.
Chris Bumbray - JoBlo's Movie Emporium
That creaking sound during Don't Be Afraid of the Dark isn't a door opening ghostly; it's the groaning cliche of a haunted house and stupid people who don't know when to leave.
Steve Persall - Tampa Bay Times
Classic horror fanatics will find plenty to love here, but those suffering from frightfully short attention spans should exercise caution. Dark isn't a thrill ride.
Brian Orndorf - BrianOrndorf.com
Aimed directly at the classy end of the horror spectrum, Dark derives its R-rated chills less from its occasional bursts of violence than it does from an overriding atmosphere of terror.
Geoff Berkshire - Metromix.com
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark never gets you jumping out of your seat.
Pete Hammond - Boxoffice Magazine
Del Toro's DNA is in here, and fans of his work will feel like they're getting what they want from the movie. It's a nice director/producer relationship, and the result is very strong.
Drew McWeeny - HitFix
What this film really needs is a good exterminator, or a better director.
Alexandra Cavallo - Boston Phoenix
Has a certain hokey, old-fashioned charm but otherwise proves pretty bland in today's horror climate.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
Bound to get lodged somewhere deep in your mind as "oh, heck, what was the name of that movie with the girl and the monsters? That one wasn't half bad."
Jordan Hoffman - UGO
When they finally unleash their full power, it's like watching footage of the tsunami: The wave keeps building in intensity and danger beyond what you thought was possible.
Marshall Fine - Hollywood & Fine
Pity that the mythology of the homunculi's existence is as arbitrary as the story's lazy, asinine plotting.
Ed Gonzalez - Slant Magazine
It's always good to watch Katie Holmes, but she can't scare me.
Harvey S. Karten - Compuserve
[VIDEO] "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" is a nuanced horror movie modulated to incur just the right quality of nightmare. You might want to sleep with the light on for a few nights after seeing it.
Cole Smithey - ColeSmithey.com
Though he is the producer and not the director, this supremely mounted if old-fashioned horror movie bears the unmistakable signature of Guillermo del Toro.
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com
'Dark 'is an engaging, well-paced and scary horror film... it's a gateway horror flick, one that will push the younger generation into our sick and twisted world.
Brad Miska - Bloody Disgusting
You definitely get your money's worth in several scenes of full on little armies stabbing and grabbing.
Fred Topel - Screen Junkies