Guillermo Del Toro is currently the crown prince of horror films in Hollywood. Given his breakthrough film, the Academy Award-winning “Pan’s Labyrinth,” almost anything the man touches is instantly granted a very special cache, as is the case with the film he recently produced and adapted from the original teleplay, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.”
Del Toro first saw the original on TV as a child in the ’70s and the story, about a hoard of tiny vermin-like creatures who feed on children’s teeth, had haunted him for many years afterward.
“I loved the idea that some of the ancient history of the house was left blurry,” he says. “[I loved] the immediacy of knowing [the creatures] could crawl under a door, they could come out of an air duct. And they’re smart – that was very creepy – that they were not just little animals trying to chew you. They had a plan.”
Like“Labyrinth” and his debut film “The Devil’s Backbone,” in addition to many other films he’s written or produced, “Dark” is centered on a troubled youngster, who is the first in the household to meet those “creepy little bastards” as Del Toro calls them. The director argues that there’s a fine line between exploiting a young character and making them a powerful addition to a horror film.
“I think it’s great to put in a kid who is resourceful,” he says. “What is not cool is to portray them or females as victims. I find that really passé, immoral, kind of grotesque. It’s the cheap thing to do, to use them almost like a cheap shot of getting sympathy from the audience. But if the character is resourceful, complex and smart, they are great characters to have on the screen in this type of movie.”