A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The main point here is probably "curiosity killed the cat" (or "don't go in the basement"). But a little girl does learn to open herself up -- she starts out sad and shy and ends up stronger ... though it takes a horrifying experience and a terrible loss to get to that point.
Positive Role Models
A little girl eventually begins to show bravery after bonding with her father's new girlfriend. The girlfriend shows a great deal of empathy and patience for the lost, sad, daughter; their mutual bond makes them both stronger.
Violence & Scariness
Most of the movie concentrates on suspense and the threat of violence rather than lots of gore (which doesn't make it any less scary), but at least three scenes are quite graphic, with bloody teeth-pulling, head-bashing, leg-breaking, creature-squishing, stabbing, and slashing. Other scenes show a little girl in danger, with the terrifying potential of harm. A couple gets into heated arguments.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
An adult couple is seen kissing. They begin (presumably) making love, but it happens off camera. Some giggling/kissing sounds are heard through an air vent.
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Mild language includes "hell," "poop," and "Jesus" (as an exclamation).
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Products & Purchases
A young girl wears Converse high-top "Chuck Taylor" shoes.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The girl in the movie takes some kind of prescription medication in one scene. There's also a brief discussion about the girl's (unseen) mother using medication to solve problems.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this horror movie -- a loose remake of a 1973 made-for-TV movie -- focuses on a tween girl who accidentally releases dozens of hungry, scary creatures into an old house. She's often in danger, and although the movie is less bloody than other horror flicks, there are a few extremely gory sequences in which adult characters are disfigured and murdered (slashing, heads bashed, etc.), and the movie's overall tone/feel makes it very scary and suspenseful. Language is extremely mild for an R-rated movie ("hell" is about the worst of it), and an adult couple is seen kissing, with off-screen sex implied. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The bulk of the movie generates a serious amount of suspense and dread, in anticipation of the terrors that might -- or might not -- come. The movie also adds a little girl to the mix, giving the movie a new fairy-tale dimension, similar to Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth, although this movie seems more based in reality than fantasy. The design is key here. The huge house, as well as some haunting artwork, adds character and a slightly otherworldly mood.
The original 1973 TV movie that DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK is based on was low on gore and used some half-hidden, inexpensive visual effects to suggest the little monsters; the rest was left up to viewers' imagination. Here, writer/producer Guillermo Del Toro -- teaming with first-time director Troy Nixey -- more or less stays true to that concept, except that this version adds a couple of extra-gory sequences for today's horror hounds, as well as state-of-the-art digital creatures and strong characters.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.