Monster Mondays: Don’t be Afraid of the Dark (2011)

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2011 film)

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2011 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You may have spotted how much we love monsters here at the Eyeball, which means that Guillermo Del Toro is one of our very favourite directors. Pacific Rim looks like it’ll be awesome, Pan’s Labyrinth still shocks, and he took Hellboy to the Troll Market. He also produces many movies, and we were thrilled to see him at Comic Con in 2010, where he announced he would be backing a remake of the 1973 TV horror movie, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.

Although Guillermo didn’t direct this new version, he was directly responsible for producing it. We guess this is probably due to his busy schedule spent deciding whether to continue with the Hobbit and Mountains of Madness (both fell through). But, as we hope Pacific Rim will also prove, monsters are exactly what Del Toro excels with. There’s plenty to choose from in his filmography, but today we’re shining a light on some of his more underrated creations. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark was great fun and the monsters are very nasty little critters.

Try to sleep with the light off after seeing this under the duvet...

Try to sleep with the light off after seeing this under the duvet…

Now, we knew nothing at all about either version of the movie, although for some reason we’d been under the impression that it was a ghost story in the vein of The Orphanage. Not so. Instead, it’s about a lonely little girl who is shipped off to live with her estranged father and step-mother, who are renovating a huge old mansion house in Providence, Rhode Island. Despite dire warnings from a creepy workman, she releases some tiny, chatty creatures, whom she hopes will be her friends. But they’re really aggressive little monsters, and she must face her fears, and disbelieving adults, as the pint-sized horrors come after her and her pearly whites. It turns out they’re quite handy with a cutthroat razor. Luckily, they are also deathly afraid of any light. Then they cut the power.

In the movie tie-in book ‘Blackwood’s Guide to Dangerous Fairies’, Blackwood describes his first discovery of the little rotters as follows:

“Perhaps 12 inches high, the creature had been arranged so the bones of its arms were raised and hooked in a strange, death pantomime of a praying mantis. The thing had a hunched back with a prominent spine and thick, voluminous ribs so that it seemed to have more bone mass than any creature its size would ever need. The front teeth more closely resembled those of the shark but the back teeth on both sides were large and blunt, made for gnawing and crunching. A shiver went through me.”


Some of Blackwood’s artwork from the film, a beautiful and scary twisted fairytale.

So, why are they scary?

  • Tiny angry creatures that move like spiders. Obviously horrible.
  • They move like spiders with a brain. Carrying knives. Even scarier.
  • They hide around the house, spying and plotting to get you.
  • They like to eat teeth. Which is why the opening sequence is so upsetting.
  • Add to that – they live in a seriously Lovecraftian location – nowhere evokes unease in ostentatious settings like a horror in Rhode Island, New England. 
  • Worse still the adults refuse to believe these things are after you!
  • They’ll frame you for wrecking clothes and stealing things, turning adults against you.
  • Surprisingly well informed about modern power supplies. Which isn’t good.
  • They clearly like to mess with people, as they had plenty of opportunity to grab our heroine’s teeth but seemed to hold off (we don’t think it’s entirely due to bad writing).
  • They haul you away on ropes like really evil Lilliputians, and are very dangerous en masse.
  • They aren’t averse to breaking your legs to get you into their world.
  • If they successfully take you, you become one of them forever. 
  • Also that moment of a shrieking face under the covers drew a scream or two.

The first reveal of them is terrifying and the artwork and the animation of them only gets better as the film goes on.We’re jonesing for that Blackwood art book. While the movie may not be the strongest ever made, the creature design cannot be faulted. We eagerly anticipated every moment they were onscreen, and loved that they are only revealed gradually – but didn’t disappoint when they came into view.

More Blackwood artwork of the scary little monsters

More Blackwood artwork of the scary little monsters

And finally, there’s a very tenuous link to Fathers Day here, as the opening scene involves Blackwood desperately making a deal with the creatures in order to get them to return his stolen son. It doesn’t go well.

Now, keep that nightlight on, and possibly invest in a night guard for your precious teeth! These creatures are fantastic. We adore seeing real monsters in horror, and frankly the more films like this we get, the better.

Creepy creatures, we love them

Creepy creatures, we love them

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1 thought on “Monster Mondays: Don’t be Afraid of the Dark (2011)

  1. Reblogged this on Joanna K Neilson and commented:

    Today’s Monday Monsters on the Eyeball are the creepy little guys from the remake of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark – although we concede that pictures of the critters from the 1973 original are pretty bloody terrifying as well….


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