Fear of the Dark

Year: 2002
Director: K.C. Bascombe
IMDB Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0308252/


If you’ve never heard of this movie, I wouldn’t be surprised.  It’s a lovely little movie from Canada that I wouldn’t have stumbled upon had it not been for Netflix.   The movie stars Kevin Zegers (Gossip Girl, Dawn of the Dead, Wrong Turn) as Dale Billings and Jesse James (Jumper, Pearl Harbor) as his younger brother Ryan.  Ryan is 12 years old and suffers from nictophobia, an intense fear of the dark.  He is so convinced there are monsters in the dark, he sleeps with fourteen nightlights, has built various traps in his room, often sleeps under his bed, and rarely sleeps more than an hour a night.  His seventeen year old brother Dale thinks he just wants attention.

Dale and Ryan’s parents go out for the evening, leaving Dale in charge.  The parents have made several arrangements in case the power goes out, including installing a small electric generator in the basement that will power flood lights if needed.  Dale tries to get Ryan to explain why he’s so afraid, and as the night wears on Dale begins to suspect that there really might be something in the dark.  Eventually both boys come face to face with the “night people” who regularly attack Ryan at night.  Dale’s girlfriend (Rachel Skarsten; Birds of Prey, American Pie Presents), Heather, arrives and all three are terrorized by the strange beings that live in the dark.

There are a few shock scenes in the movie worth a good jump, but the movie really hits its stride in showing the brothers and how much they care about each other.  Ryan eventually has to overcome his fear of the dark to save his brother and Heather, and the creatures in the darkness are defeated…at least temporarily.  The plot isn’t particularly complicated and that works for it, keeping it a tight, scary movie perfect for a dark and stormy night.

There are a few downsides.  The effects in the movie look off in a few places, especially the “bug scene” near the end.  The monsters are creepy, reminiscent of the Gentlemen from the classic Buffy the Vampire episode Hush, but the cowboy look of the primary bad guy isn’t very scary.  Additionally, when the creatures are fully revealed, the music score, generally a quirky and acceptable background, suddenly becomes a semi-techno metal that doesn’t fit at all with the scene.

I would have liked a bit more background on why the darkness was haunted, and about Heather’s connection to it (her brother was killed by the creatures at the beginning of the movie), but this seems to have been left out.  The final scene is well done, but horribly cliche and telegraphed.

This movie is currently available on the Netflix instant play and is well worth the time to give it a watch.

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