review for Afraid of the Dark on AllMovie

Afraid of the Dark (1992)
by Craig Butler review

A film that is likely to divide people along pretty rigid lines, Afraid of the Dark at least deserves credit for trying to be something different. That won't be enough for many, who will find it much too slow, incredibly confusing and ultimately unsatisfying. But for those who "get" the film, Dark will be a very rewarding experience. Dark is set up to frustrate most of the audience; starting out as one kind of very familiar (and chillingly effective) thriller, it abruptly switches gears entirely in the middle and becomes a psychological study of a very different sort. Those who can deal with this change will find Dark a fascinating study, not only of a young boy in the throes of a difficult psychological situation but of the art of filmmaking itself. Ideas about identity, character, truth, reality and motivation are shaken and questioned in what some will find an absorbing manner. These same people will also probably appreciate a degree of artificiality in portions of the performances and of underplaying by the young lead actor, an appreciation that will not be shared by detractors. Enigmatic and disturbing, Dark is not for everyone, but will be embraced enthusiastically by those with whom it does resonate.