Your reaction to Don't Be Afraid of the Dark will very likely depend upon whether you saw the film first in your childhood. Those who were still at least a few years from adulthood in 1973 and saw the film at that time likely found it a delightfully chilling, gripping, frightening TV-movie experience, and while they may not find it exactly all they remembered upon re-viewing, their fond memories of its from childhood will color their more recent experiences with it. Those who come to it fresh, however, may wonder why it has such a cult reputation -- and not without cause. Compared with the creatures available through CGI and other advanced techniques, the evil beings in Dark look quite phony, and the fake "giant-size" sets are particularly unconvincing. The film is a bit too long, and it's filled with those moments where people behave in a manner that they simply wouldn't in real life. That said, however, there still are many high points that raise the required chills. The first half-hour or so works especially well; indeed, if the revelation of what the creatures look like had been delayed to the very end (or had they never been shown at all), the suspense and chill factor would have been even higher. Director John Newland is at his best when he's simply hinting at the evil, through disembodied whispery voices or the mere glimpse of something scuttling across the screen. And yes, the screenplay depends upon unrealistic behavior, but it results in enough pay-offs that many will forgive it these flaws. And the flashbulb climax is superbly done.
by Craig Butler review