If Hurricane Irene leaves us alone, two varied movies opening this weekend will provide a fine diversion.
Don‘t Be Afraid of the Dark is a great date movie to end this summer’s blockbuster season. Chasing Madoff is an espionage documentary about the Gordon Gekko of our time, Bernie Madoff.
In the recent decade of irrational exuberance, money managers missed the signs of approaching doom. Much like ignoring hurricane warnings, people like Harry Markopolos warned the watch dog organization of Wall Street, the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). When Madoff’s financial abuse made front page news, the SEC lost credibility with independent investors. The sins of Madoff have affected charitable fundraising on a local level.
Sometimes veering too much toward dramatic comedy, Canadian director Jeff Prosserman’s superficial approach deflates Harry Mark-opolos’ emotional sacrifice. That said, this film simplifies Madoff and his Ponzi schemes, making a complicated financial con job approachable for the layman.
For the past decade, Guillermo Del Toro has directed some of the most consistently interesting motion pictures; starting with The Devil’s Backbone, both Hellboy movies and Pan’s Labyrinth. He has also produced the gothic thriller The Orphanage and this summer’s best monster movie Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.
Based on a 1973 teleplay staring Kim Darby and Jim Hutton, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” opens with a scary myth-making prologue, good old fashioned opening credits that foreshadow the plot structure and an entertaining balance between laughs and scares.
Vulnerable from the opening scene, Bailee Madison plays the disregarded daughter of Guy Pearce, a real estate speculator who is trying to sell the Blackwood Mansion. Dealing with dueling divorced parents is trauma enough, but little Bailee must contend with scurvy little demons under her bed at the Blackwood Mansion. Once awakened, these intelligent little devils need a human sacrifice to be placated.
The success of this motion picture weighs heavily on 9-year-old Madison, a Ft. Lauderdale native. Along with the nifty special effects, Madison holds her own with veteran actors Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is good popcorn-eating Saturday Morning escapism.