Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

We can complain all we want, rationalize, or hope for the best, but the easiest way to stop the remake assault that studios have foisted upon audiences is not to pay for it. The studio system still hasn’t found a silver bullet for killing the monster of low attendance, and 2011 might have been the worst wake-up call they could get. Movie attendance fell by 4.4% from 2010, down to the lowest level since 1995. The problematic silver lining is that foreign sales are higher, which could result in even more broadly-appealing (and “appealing” is used generously here) movies that are generic and treat dialogue like a second-class citizen. On the losing side of the field (the one where producers aren’t having Gatorade dumped on them), are the remakes of 2011. Remakes are thought to be attractive because they come with built-in name recognition for audiences, and development has already been partially done for a story that’s already proven itself as a money-maker. For fans, they’re also infuriating because they signal both a lack of creativity coming out of an industry built on it and the potential (likely) bastardization of something we hold dear (and, yes, of course the original is still out there; it’s the principle of the thing). So it may come as pleasant news for some to see that remakes, regardless of their quality of genre, failed spectacularly at the box office this year. It’s the kind of thing that may just deter producers from trying to […]

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This Week in DVD

Welcome to 2012 and the last year of your life! That’s not me threatening you by the way, it’s the Mayans. And who better to predict the end of civilization than a culture that’s long since gone extinct. This week’s DVD releases are filled with other things looking to kill you including Contagion, Shark Night, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, and a really well put together woman named Frankenhooker. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Guard A smuggling ring in a small Irish seaside town draws the attention of an FBI agent (Don Cheadle), and he’s forced to team up with a local cop (Brendan Gleeson) of dubious morality if he hopes to crack the case. John Michael McDonagh’s wonderfully foul and often witty black comedy offers a great pairing with Gleeson and Cheadle playing off of each other to perfection. Gleeson in particular shines as a rude, sarcastic and possibly racist hick who may be a better comedian than police officer. This one gets compared to the superior In Bruges for a few different reasons, but it stands quite strong on its own.

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The Best Movie Trailers of 2011

They say it’s hard to judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to world of cinema and movie marketing (and the plethora of films that hit theaters each weekend), it’s hard not to use a film’s three-minute long trailer to judge whether or not it will be something you’ll be interested in seeing (and with movie prices on the up and up, it’s hard to go in blind these days). The illustrious Jack Giroux and Allison Loring rounded up the top 11 trailers released over the past year. They’re both for films that came out in 2011 and either lived up to or fell short of their promise and for films due to be released next year that have begun teasing us early. Plus a few honorable mentions because Jack and I aren’t super great at math (we’re writers, and I’m pretty sure you can only be good at one or the other). From horror to action to comedy (and much discussion about the merits of underwear – you’ll see), our picks spanned the genres proving that it does not matter what type of film you are promoting, just whether or not you are able to grab people’s attention. Listed in no particular order, let us know in the comments if you agree, disagree or if there was a trailer you loved that we missed on our list.

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It seems like every year I find myself disappointed in the horror offerings of the preceding twelve months. Especially if you think of widely released theatrical flicks, few of which ever make the lists. If it weren’t for DVDs and VODs, I don’t even know if I could in good conscience pretend that 10 (or 11) horror films were good. That said, I did manage to find some enjoyment in theaters and at home this year, but it wasn’t the easiest task in the world. In a good year, it’ll be hard to eliminate films from the list, but when it comes to horror most years, its scraping the bottom of the barrel to come up with a full list. Quickly, in terms of eligibility, I write my lists a little differently than many others – for me, a film has to be widely available in this year, either in theaters or DVD or VOD. So films that only show at festivals generally aren’t eligible for my lists until they’re released on DVD. For example, Ti West’s The Innkeepers has made several lists, but it’s not widely available until 12/30 so most people won’t see it until 2012, so that’s that.

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MOD, or manufacturing on demand, means studios and DVD labels don’t press the DVD until you order it. MGM’s Limited Edition Collection and the Warner Archive Collection are the two big names in the MOD game right now, and each month they make dozens of titles available on DVD for the very first time. And The MOD Quad will take a look at as many of them as we can handle on a semi-irregular basis. Which will probably average out to some number divisible by four. This Halloween-themed installment includes eight horror films from the Warner Archive including one of the best made-for-TV horror films ever made (Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark), a freaky and timely movie about a madman who owns exotic animals (Black Zoo), one of the scariest TV mini-series (Salem’s Lot), the best killer pig movie to ever grace the screen (Razorback) and more.

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The Reject Report

They came. They stood. They weren’t afraid of a thing. And when the dust settled, they swept that up with the rest of the competition. Here in its third weekend out, The Help continues to pull in new as well as repeat audiences, and is very close to breaking the $100m barrier. Subsequent from its opening weekend, its percentage drops have been quite impressive: 23.1% down last weekend from the weekend before and 28.4% down this weekend from last. Though future weekends might see films open big enough to knock the period drama out of the top spot, its percentage downsizing doesn’t seem likely to grow, and The Help will end up being quite the success story come year end. And that’s even before the expected Oscar nominations for it are announced. Colombiana and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark’s numbers were somewhat flip-flopped from what I anticipated. Colombiana was the only other film besides The Help to pull in double digits this weekend, but just barely. It didn’t perform too terribly worse than Olivier Megaton’s previous film’s opening weekend. Transporter 3 debuted with $12m, and ended up topping $100m worldwide. With Luc Besson’s name attached to Colombiana as well, you can expect foreign numbers to be much more favorable than domestic.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr moved into an old, creepy house with the wife of an uber-famous movie star. But then she started hearing voices in the walls, so he bailed on that noise and found a new main squeeze. She turned out to be a full-blown psychotic assassin bent on revenge and blood. The plus side is that she was the spitting image of Zoe Saldana, so Kevin thought it might be worth the risk. This, of course, did not end well, but he considered himself lucky because he didn’t have to sit through Our Idiot Brother. Oh, and apparently Transformers: The Dark of the Moon is returning to IMAX screens… but does anyone care about that at all?

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The Reject Report

Or the dark. There’s actually probably more to be afraid of in the dark than in this week’s Reject Report. Unless, of course, you have a phobia of numbers. Arithmophobia. It’s a real thing. Thanks, Google. But back to this week’s offerings. We’ve got a horror movie, a female assassin actioner, and a Sundance comedy starring Paul Rudd. Needless to say, it’s not a matter of if The Help will lead the pack for the third weekend in a row. It’s a matter of by how much. It could be a close race, and when all is said and done it doesn’t look like the weekend numbers will be anything to be thrilled about. In fact, you can sweep them under the rug. With the dust. Because you’re frightened of that, too. Koniophobia. Thanks again, Google!

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It’s been hyped up, hotly anticipated and pushed hard by the big name behind it, but at the end of the day Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is just not that scary. Sure, Troy Nixey’s haunted house movie — co-produced and co-scripted by Guillermo Del Toro — has the high end bonafides, revealed in the sumptuous wood-paneled mansion setting and the patient, operatic camera movements. It’s got the eerie historical aura, the tortured child and the expressionistic rendition of shadowy figures creeping through the darkness. But when this remake of a popular made-for-TV movie from 1973 finally shows all its cards, you wonder what you’ve missed. There’s a serious disconnect between the highfalutin atmospherics and the nitty- gritty sloppiness of the premise, a sort of People Under the Stairs for rich white New Englanders. Reliant on the timeless “boo” effect and the hint of something deeper and sinister, the film basically offers one long, drawn out exercise in scaring the pants off a pre-teen.

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Guy Pearce is really good at playing assholes. He can do the nice guy thing or the conflicted hero as well, but I love me some Pearce in a-hole mode. Earlier this year in the fantastic Mildred Pierce, he got to play one of the most charming emasculated men in recent screen history. In The King’s Speech, he was a snotty old brother all about having a good ‘ol time. So what does the smooth talker from Mildred Pierce and the jerk brother from The King’s Speech have in common? Humility. Pearce is not one to let a human character be a monster for no understandable reason. He’s also not interested in having pure distaste for the character’s skin he’s inhabiting. In the (finally) upcoming Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, he’s filling the shoes of the neglectful father. While Pearce doesn’t view him as an asshole, that’s the word that kept popping up in my head when the personable actor was describing him. Here’s what the actor had to say about playing un-nice guys, the Memento Effect, his banter with Nicolas Winding Refn, trusting directors, and working with hard-boiled dialog:

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In one of the best panels in recent memory, Guillermo del Toro and Nicholas Winding Refn chose to combine their allotted time in Hall H (for Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark and Drive respectively). What resulted was a rare conversation from two unique filmmakers who transcended the normal marketing mechanism of Comic-Con to deliver some insight and information about their processes. There were many different facets to it, and they talked about their movies some of course, but ultimately it became a master class in making films. So here’s a little bit of free film school from two visionaries.

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Even though he’s currently looking to talk to the press about the upcoming horror film that he co-wrote and produced, Don’t be Afraid of the Dark, Shock till You Drop was able to ask director Guillermo del Toro some questions about his other projects as well; questions that have been floating around the movie blogosphere for a while now.

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This summer seems light on one thing: horror movies. While there is the surprisingly awesome looking Fright Night remake coming out, that looks to be far more interested in being fun and cool, rather than moody and intense. Where are the creepy horror films this season? There seems to be none this summer… except one that’s been flying under the radar for far too long: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. The Troy Nixey directed, Guillermo del Toro produced family vs. monsters film has taken its sweet time getting to the big screen, but come August, we’ll finally get a true horror film for the summer.

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Last summer was a good (not great) movie season. Granted, there were some notorious duds with Robin Hood, Jonah Hex, Avatar: The Last Whatever-It’s-Called, the one where Jake Gyllenhaal talked real funny and had his shirt off a lot, and many, many others. And, of course, there were some rather disappointing missed opportunities (*COUGH* Iron Man 2 *COUGH*). But overall, it was a solid time for both big event films and the smaller ones. There were two excellent high profile films (Toy Story 3, Inception) and a handful of great little-seen ones (Animal Kingdom, Cyrus, Solitary Man, etc.). And who could forget about Scott Pilgrim vs. the World? This summer will most likely be no different. There are a few films not to get too excited about, but there are plenty of other films to get tingly about. There are two Marvel films, a new frickin’ Terrence Malick epic, a great looking new X-Men…the list goes on and on. In fact, the list goes on right now with the 15 Must See Movies of Summer 2011:

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Jaws didn’t mean to do it, but Summer has become the biggest business in movie-making. This summer, we’re getting a new batch of movies that the studios are hoping to be gigantic, but thankfully for us, they fit into 6 handy categories. Rob Hunter and Cole Abaius have worked tirelessly (except for five or ten naps) in order to break these movies down and present them to you. What will you be watching this summer? What excites you the most? What do you have the highest hopes for? These films all have the potential to bust blocks, but will it be your block they’re busting? Here they are, the six types of films coming out in the following months.

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One of the heartbreaking news moments of the past few months was seeing Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark – the horror remake from director Troy Nixey and producer Guillermo del Toro – get pushed back into indefinite shelving land. Fortunately, according to Variety, FilmDistrict has come to the rescue in order to send the film to 2,500 screens on August 12th, complete with its R-rating. January would have been great (if only to help save the month and let audiences see the scares earlier), but August is better than never. Plus, there’s nothing like a fall release for this kind of horror flick. Rejoice!

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Every day, come rain or shine or internet tubes breaking, Film School Rejects showcases a trailer from the past. When you move into a new house, it’s supposed to be a joyous time that doesn’t involve tiny little monsters that plan on stealing your loved ones. Sadly, that’s not always what happens. Especially in today’s housing market. In 1973, this television horror film delivered on the scares and the stiff acting, and its 2011 remake has gotten a release date (finally). Just don’t open the hatch at the bottom of the chimney. Think you know what it is? Check the trailer out for yourself:

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Coroner

After a pretty dismal 2010 in terms of horror films, I decided to look into my crystal ball and peer into the future. By the future I mean 2011. While gazing deep into my crystal ball laptop monitor, I feel fairly confidant that 2011 will be approximately 78% better in terms of horror than the previous year. Why do I feel more confident in this year’s horror slate? Because in trying to find just 11 titles to bring attention to, I had to whittle it down from sixteen. Why not give you all sixteen? Because it’s 20-eleven, not 20-sixteen, duh. Anyway, here are the 11 horror films to keep on your radar this year.

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The phrase “first time director” is a frightening thing of beauty. It represents potential and promise, but it also brings the same concerns that the phrases “first time barber” and “first time brain surgeon” might. The world has been fortunate as of late with some fantastic first timers – from Duncan Jones to Neill Blomkamp – and after seeing the footage from Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark at Comic-Con, Troy Nixey has the potential to join their ranks. After speaking with him, it’s clear that he has the mind and the fan status to deliver true horror. He talks the talk. Hopefully the movie will prove that he walks the walk. I was fortunate enough to eat hotel cookies and sit down with the newcomer during the madness of Comic-Con. In full earshot of producer Guillermo del Toro cursing and laughing with child-like wonder, Nixey spoke about the tone of the film, the creation of fear with suggestion, and the reverence for the horror of the late 70s and early 80s.

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It seems like an obvious concept, that horror movies should be scary, but it also seems that most of the ones coming out of Hollywood these days are more interested in gore and/or special effects than in legitimate atmosphere and terror. The only exceptions I can think of recently are Paranormal Activity and Quarantine. But the former is more of an indie than a Hollywood production and the latter was a remake of the Spanish thriller Rec… Which brings us to the upcoming remake of Don’t Be Afraid Of the Dark. If that name only triggers memories of afternoons spent parked in front of the TV with Nickelodeon blaring out at you then you’ll need to prepare yourself for something a bit different. The film follows a young girl sent to live with her father (Guy Pearce) and his new girlfriend (Katie Holmes) in an old Victorian-style home. Their arrival triggers something in the basement that wants a closer look at the girl. This is the feature debut of director Troy Nixey, but he has a pretty experienced pair of hands backing him up… Guillermo Del Toro is the film’s executive producer and the man who shepherded it along through production. The original film is a made-for-TV classic from 1973, and while it doesn’t hold up all that well today it still manages to find more than a few scares. Check after the jump for the creepiest trailer you’ve seen since Carrot Top’s Chairman Of the Board…

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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