is going to be a great year for movies. I’m confident of this. Since
we’re in this ride together I figured we’d get ready for the year in a
fun and exciting new way. First, over the course of the next fifteen
weekdays we’re going to highlight one mainstream film a day. Some of
them are slam dunks, some of them have a cloud of trouble floating
above them, but all represent a great way to spend a Friday night at
the movie theater even if it results in you ripping its ass thereafter.

of the things this site is built on is a love of movies. Some folks
think we’ve let some of that go by the wayside. I disagree, but
regardless, I want 2010 to be a year where this site restores some of
that wonder. Though the glass can never truly be half-full in a
business so driven by rehashes and hollow entertainment, we’re going to
have fun with it and prepare you guys with as many tools as possible to
make the moviegoing experience worth it. Especially as the internet
gets more and more bogged down with people who have no right serving as
an authority of film blabbering all over blogs and Twitter and beyond.

There’s a reason you come here.

Day Two

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
Directed by Troy Nixey
Starring Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, & Bailee Madison
Written by Guillermo del Toro & Matthew Robbins
Based on the original teleplay by Nigel McKeand

Full Disclosure
I am a producer on this film, and am the person who brought Troy Nixey and Guillermo del Toro together. I’ve watched this thing take shape and had the pleasure of spending a few weeks on the set in Melbourne, Australia. I have many reasons to brag this film up for superficial reasons, since I am a part of the team. I also have many reasons to brag because two of my most beloved and trusted creative people in the world are involved. It just happens to be a knockout little monster movie, and that’s the real reason it’s worth bragging about because all of my enthusiasm and closeness to the readers of this site don’t mean much if the film isn’t good. And it is. Really good. This is a film to be excited for in 2010 and though I am biased I can already see the grins forming on many faces of the readers I know once the little terrors start to do their thing. When it comes out… we shall see. But it’ll almost assuredly be this year and I wouldn’t be surprised if the folks at the studio treat it with the class and respect it deserves. This is an old school classical horror movie, not some flashy bit of schlock. But it’s my job to say that. So, instead take all I say with a grain of salt and find out for yourself.

The Gist
remake of the great 70’s television movie about a family dealing with creatures in the basement, this has a lot more in common with Pan’s Labyrinth than The Gate. Katie Holmes plays the new woman in the life of a young girl’s father (Guy Pearce) who is helping renovate and preserve a very old and very mysterious old mansion. The Blackwood Estate. The girl (Bailee Madison recently of Brothers), is not thrilled to be there and begins to explore. What she finds may end them all. Something is alive in the dark, and there’s a lot more than one.

Participants to Watch
Katie Holmes has made horror films before but nothing like this. This is a really different and much more mature role for her. Few movies have showcased her maternal qualities and this one most certainly does. It’s a really good role for her. I’m anxious to see how the web reacts to her.

Troy Nixey was a great comic book artist. He has a visionary approach to film and his ideas are rooted deep in the worlds of fantasy and horror. Click the link below to his short film and you’ll see. As a feature director he takes those sensibilities and opens them up to Guillermo del Toro’s palette. This could be the film that introduces the world to another really prominent genre voice. Especially if his next film happens the way it ought to.

Mike Elizalde is one of the real geniuses working in the effects world and though his writer and director were massively involved in the creature design, a lot of what makes them work is what this man does. No stranger to Guillermo del Toro’s world having worked on many of his projects, this guy’s monsters have to deliver. I will say this: they are very different than the ones in the original.

The Buzz
There’s no buzz yet, because there’s nothing out there yet. All people can do is speculate. How much del Toro is in there (answer: it’s more del Toro than anything he’s been involved with that he hasn’t directed), how cool and scary the monsters are (answer: you will love them), and how well the cast works together (answer: delightfully).

But it’s a different movie. It’s the kind of movie that we loved in the 70’s and 80’s. It’s not the kind of movie we often see now. It’s not fast-paced and overstylized. We’ll see how the world receives it once the marketing machine gets rolling but I think it may be a sneaky little movie that gets the horror folks but also serves as a gateway to all which came before.

But I’m not biased at all.

Best Case
It quadruples Avatar.

Worst Case
Not an option.

CHUD’s Prognosis
I honestly think this has the potential to be a crossover hit. It’s not a massively expensive film, which helps. A lot depends on the release date, marketing, and which way the wind is blowing. I think we realize that this is the most inexact science there is.

Useful links
Official Site
See Troy’s short film Latchkey’s Lament
The Original on Amazon

Useful Lynx

Discuss this column here.

Tomorrow: As close to a lock as there is.