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'Don't Be Afraid of the Dark' premiere: Katie Holmes, Guillermo del Toro, Bailee Madison shine the light

June 27, 2011 |  1:56 pm

Katie Holmes at the "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" premiere

The final night of Los Angeles Film Festival got off to a hectic start Sunday as Katie Holmes, Guillermo del Toro and diminutive star Bailee Madison walked the red carpet for the world premiere of "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark."

The film, which Del Toro described as a Gothic tale like the kind he loved in his youth, focuses on young Sally, who comes to live in a spooky mansion that her father (Guy Pearce) is renovating with his new girlfriend (played by Holmes). Sally, played by Bailee, begins hearing voices in the basement and before long is being terrorized by ancient, evil creatures that feed on children's bones and teeth.

Given the film's extra-creepy factor, it's easy to wonder if 11-year-old Madison needed special coaching to get through the scary stuff, but Del Toro said no.

"She's a 4-by-4. She's an ATV," joked the producer, who'd thought he would need to help her through. She did just fine on her own, he said.

Young Bailee, who walked down the carpet with the poise of a 25-year-old, said she was "looking forward to being scared because I wanted to show the audience what it felt like."

And she had lots of room to do just that. Although the film was directed by Troy Nixey, it was co-written and produced by Del Toro, who said he relishes writing strong roles for women. In the case of Sally, he said, "she's actually the most adult character in the film."

Holmes was glad that the film dealt with more than fear.

"This film has great characters and a great family drama happening outside of the scares," she said, "which only increase the scares."

The audience at the premiere got more than on-screen scares: During a particularly suspenseful scene, the theater's fire alarm went off and everybody had to leave the building. Thankfully, it was a false alarm and people were allowed back in to watch the rest of the movie.

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— Jessica Gelt

Photo: Katie Holmes arrives for the "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival on Sunday. Credit: Gus Ruelas / Reuters.

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