Guillermo del Toro is the mastermind behind “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” in US theaters this weekend, but he says his own scariest time is during broad daylight.
Del Toro acknowledged in a recent interview that his nighttime dreams are actually “very boring.” Instead, the Oscar-winning producer, director and screenwriter said he has “an overactive imagination in the day”: a “horrible” condition because he always is overreacting to something.
“If my wife takes 15 minutes longer to come back from the supermarket, I’m already fantasizing with horror stories. You know: what happened? A crash? An accident? A plane landed on the car? I tend to get paranoid really fast,” he said. That could be the inspiration for the monster-meister’s dark films such as “Pan’s Labyrinth,” the “Hellboy” series, and now “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” a film del Toro describes as a classic gothic thriller.
It stars 11-year-old Bailee Madison as Sally, who is sent to live with her father, played by Guy Pierce, and his girlfriend, played by Katie Holmes. In the house, Sally hears voices that turn out to be what del Toro describes as “little creatures that are very, very nasty,” that live in the cellars, in caves, under the house and, of course, are up to no good.
Del Toro produced the film and co-wrote the screenplay, which he says is very close to his heart and took more than 16 years finally to get into theaters. It is based on a 1973 television movie of the same name, which del Toro says was the scariest movie he saw as a young boy. He says the story then took on a life of its own, noting that those were days before people could re-watch movies on video. “So we just retold the story to each other and the school boys and through the years I realized that a lot of the moments I liked about the movie we have made up; we had invented,” he said.
Del Toro originally planned to direct “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” but could not because at the time he was directing Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” (del Toro quit the production in May 2010 after two years of involvement, citing production delays). He acknowledges that under the direction of Troy Nixey, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” looks very different from what he envisioned, but he says the best part of this experience was “to see the world you’ve dreamt of so long interpreted in a different way.”