Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (1973) starring Kim Darby, Jim Hutton, Barbara Anderson, William Demarest, Pedro Armendáriz Jr. directed by John Newland Movie Review

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (1973)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Kim Darby in Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (1973)

Afraid of 70s Fashions

Having inherited her grandparent's Victorian house, Sally (Kim Darby) and her husband Alex (Jim Hutton) move in with a plan of doing it up with the help of Mr. Harris (William Demarest) who had helped with work around the place for her grandparents. It Mr. Harris who warns them not to enter the locked room which was Sally's grandfather's study and he insists the bricked up fireplace must stay bricked up but refuses to say why 20 years earlier he was asked to seal it off. But Sally opens it up and suddenly starts seeing small creatures everywhere except no one else can see them. With Alex thinking she is going out of her mind things take a much more serious and sinister turn when Mr. Harris is injured.

Almost every positive review of "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" which I browsed before watching mentioned that they remembered watching it late at night when they were children in 1973 and it scared them. And that is great as I know there are some movies I watched late at night as a child in the early 80s which had the same effect on me. But as I watched this 1973 made for TV horror for the first time now it did incredibly little for me with an awkward style which makes it seem fake. For example a scene where Sally and her friend go shopping, the stilted almost nervous way they talk to each other is wrong.

But whilst stylistically "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" does little for me I like the idea. Here we have a wife who feels a little neglected because her husband is so focussed on his career and making partner. When she starts saying she is seeing little creatures he thinks it is a ploy to make him spend more time with her and at home. But then we become aware of these demon like goblins which begin to torment her. It isn't so much scary but there is some logic to the way the story develops. Plus the effects of these goblins are now more charming than creepy.

What this all boils down to is that "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" probably still has some nostalgic charm for those who watched it as teens back in 1973 but now it ends up just a product of its era, not overly scary but having some nice ideas.