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Reviews: ‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,’ ‘Colombiana’

By Staff | Aug 31, 2011

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

No serial killer. No simple explanation. No psycho seeking revenge. Here’s a creepy ol’ house flick that elicits squeals of delight and fear from audiences. “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” sucks a restoration-minded architect (Guy Pearce) and his interior decorator hottie wife (Katie Holmes) into a pit filled with paranormal poltergeist.

Sally Hirst (Bailee Madison), the couple’s troubled daughter, reluctantly joins the pair. When she tells of seeing sparks, hearing voices and small troll-like creatures, the shrink suggests more pills to make her sleep.

Based on a 1973 made for TV flick, “Don’t Bed Afraid of the Dark” brings rippling chills without inserting repetitive gore and torture. Its opening injects shudders for those with dental phobias.

Sweeping from a shadowy upscale period home, the basement grill covered fireplace resembles an oven, yet an enclosed “green” terrace has aquatic peace. Throughout, these contrasts continually slip from the odd hues from a lighted merry-go-round lamp to “lights out” segments which turn a bed and a shower into excruciatingly fearful venues.


“I want to be a killer,” an emphatic 10-year-old tells her new guardian. She came to America from Columbia after enduring the deaths of her mom and dad by crime kingpins.

Told that acrobatics and strength must combine with smarts, the girl grows into a sleek, slippery, silent, talented executioner. Zoe Soldana plays the title character, “Colombiana.”

Stealth breeds action and Colombiana’s actions lead to dead mobsters. The scenario repeats throughout the flick. Using a sexy, impaired image (DUI, can’t stand up, falling out of her heels) lands her in jail where she dons a sweat suit, crawls through the air conditioning infrastructure and wastes an enemy in his cell. After sleeping off the so-called drunken night, the police hand her a summons with her shoes and she walks out of the precinct just as the FBI/CIA order a lock down.

Soldana’s motive unleashes some diva-power “go girl” cheers. Combining “Mission Impossible” circumstances with straight blazing blasting bullets, Soldana wins sympathy and empathy. She’s also pretty good on or off her feet and clutching ledges, breaking a window and outwitting the male crime commandos.

“Colombiana” is a pleasure to watch, unless you want to up the ante to assigning some type of relevant significance. No, just a grown woman paying back in a Charles Bronson “Death Wish” manner. Sequel chances are excellent.

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