Fear of the Dark (2002)

February 8, 2010 - 3:05pm | FrighT MasteR
  Tags: Charles Edwin Powell, darkness, DVD, Fear of the Dark, home alone, Jesse James, K.C. Bascombe, Kevin Zegers, kids, Linda Purl, Rachel Skarsten, underrated

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K.C. Bascombe
Kevin Zegers, Jesse James, Rachel Skarsten, Charles Edwin Powell, Linda Purl

At first glance of the cover art you'd likely assume that this is just another low-budget straight-to-DVD piece 'o crap, and normally I'd think the same, but in the case of Fear of the Dark it's actually quite the opposite. The film is a good example as to how sometimes all a flick needs is the right script, actors, and a talented director that knows how to make use of their limited budget.

The story follows a young boy named Ryan, who's medically diagnosed with an acute fear of the dark. Accompanied by his older brother, the two are left home alone for the night, while their parents attend a late-night party. With all the lights on and his older brother nearby, the night appears to be going well. That is, until a power outage occurs in the neighborhood, forcing them to bust out their flashlights and young Ryan to put on his homemade light suit (you heard right!). It doesn't take long before what the boy refers to as the "night things" to come for the two.

Something you don't see much in the genre now-a-days is following the point of view of a kid. Because we follow the young boy and his bro throughout the movie it gives the flick a unique charm and it my opinion makes it even more interesting, because we have to go by the boy's rules of surviving the night. For instance, there's one scene where the kid convinces his older sibling to hide under the covers with him, because the night things can't hurt them as long as they're completely under the blanket. That scene definitely took me back to the days where I once thought the same; ah, memories *tear*.

Anyway, the movie primarily relies on its young leads and makes use of the many dark areas around the house, giving us a few decent creepy moments, like a mysterious silhouette in the background or strange movements within the shadows -- great subtle hints that something's brewing in the darkness. Because the first half relies on the actors and these subtle things it's a bit slow-paced and may turn some people off, but the pacing picks up at the hour mark when the night things finally make an appearance. Sadly, the approach the filmmakers opted to take for their reveal wasn't as effective as it could've been.

The night things themselves are somewhat creepy, but for whatever reason they're dressed in trench coats and hats? WTF!? As expected, this ends up making them seem less supernatural or terrifying. On top of that, they underused probably the creepiest one, which was an old lady that had this crazy low-pitched laughter. Then towards the end, as if the filmmakers felt as though they owed the audience something, decided to throw in cheesy CGI bugs among other things into the mix, which proved to be another disappointing aspect since until that point the CG has been kept fairly minimal.

The movie proved to be an effective genre effort, despite merely relying on two characters and sticking to only one location the entire time. Had it not been for some of the seemingly rushed sequences towards the end and if a few changes were made regarding the look of the villains, this would have been a better flick in the end. As it stands, the pic is still worth checking out thanks to the fun and unique approach it took by following an imaginative young boy.

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FrighT MasteR's picture
FrighT MasteR is an avid horror fan / monster hunter extraordinaire, who created and has been running UHM since its inception, way back in 1999.




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