Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (15)

Starring: Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, Bailee Madison, Alan Dale

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The Independent Culture

Guillermo Del Toro is the producer and presiding spirit of this haunted house chiller, loosely based on a 1973 TV movie that scared him as a kid.

Bailee Madison plays 10-year-old Sally, visiting her divorced dad (Guy Pearce) in Rhode Island. She doesn't much like his new girlfriend (Katie Holmes) and cares even less for the Gothic mansion they've been renovating together. First the poor girl hears whispers coming through the grate in the basement; soon she's being terrorised by vicious rat-like creatures that scurry about the house creating havoc. When the house gardener ends up as bloody as Banquo's Ghost this would be a signal to most families to get the hell out of there, but Pearce, incredibly, is too busy preparing for the editor of Architectural Review to drop by and give the place his imprimatur. The film is awkwardly pitched between dark fairytale – what monsters lurk under the bed? – and a more adult variation on the diabolic possession of a house. 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.