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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Katie Holmes

Preview review: 'Don't Be Afraid of the Dark.' Or, be very afraid of the dark.

August 5, 2010 |  2:16 pm

Katie%20Holmes%20in%20DON'T%20BE%20AFRAID%20OF%20THE%20DARK Last month at Comic-Con, Guillermo del Toro said the MPAA felt his new movie "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" was so bone-chilling that it could only be rated R.

"We originally thought we could shoot it as PG-13 without compromising the scares," Del Toro said. "And then the MPAA came back and gave us a badge of honor. They gave us an R for 'pervasive scariness.' We asked them if there's anything we could do, and they said, 'Why ruin a perfectly scary movie?' "

Having watched the trailer for the film, we understand why.

The movie, co-written and produced by Del Toro and directed by Troy Nixey, is a remake of a little-known 1970s horror film. At its center is Sally Hurst (Bailee Madison), a young child who moves in with her dad (Guy Pearce) and his new girlfriend (Katie Holmes). They're living in an ominous-looking 19th century mansion on Rhode Island, where Sally discovers a secret basement. The hidden space has remained untouched since the man who built the mansion mysteriously vanished 100 years prior. When she goes into the basement, Sally unwittingly awakens a group of creepy creatures, who then begin to threaten the entire family.

The new teaser trailer for the film is pretty short -- far shorter than the roughly 10 minutes of expository footage shown in San Diego -- and includes few shots from the actual movie. Instead, most of the preview features a black screen accompanied by a sinister-sounding voice-over warning us that there's "nothing to be afraid of." Yeah, right. Cut to a montage of dim shots: There are creatures trying to enter the house through a metal vent, glass is breaking, there's lots of screaming.

Even more affecting, though, is the final image of Sally crawling through sheets with only a flashlight until she lets out a bloodcurdling scream. The effect is frightening and leads us to believe that horror fans aren't going to be let down.

In any case, we'll be sleeping with the lights on tonight.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark in HD

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-- Amy Kaufman


Photo: Katie Holmes stars in "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark." Credit: Miramax

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Katie Holmes, indie queen?

March 25, 2010 |  5:59 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Speaking of "Son of No One," another bit of casting is also poised to go down on the movie: Katie Holmes is negotiating to join the cast of the cop drama (in a move that, after the testosterone of Al Pacino, Channing Tatum and Ray Liotta, would offer us another, er, chemical).

Hol Holmes would play the wife of a young policeman (Tatum) who uncovers an explosive secret after he is assigned to the working-class neighborhood where he grew up.

The part would continue an interesting pattern for Ms. H. 

After several years of quiet (Holmes hasn't had a movie commercially released since the ensemble crime comedy "Mad Money" in January 2008), the actress formerly known as Joey is suddenly back on the big screen with some frequency. But she's not taking the kind of generic studio roles that she at one time seemed to be on a trajectory for, going indie instead.

In Park City this year, Holmes had a Sundance double dip -- she played a thoughtful, slightly bitter twentysomething in the young-friends drama "The Romantics" and also starred in the adaptation of Jonathan Ames' comedy-drama "The Extra Man." Holmes also stars in the mid-budget horror remake "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark," although that movie's release status is unclear as buyers jockey over the fate of Miramax.

A burst of Holmes on the big screen, and in some pretty heady dramatic stuff? After her surprisingly impressive turn in "The Romantics," there are worse things.

-- Steven Zeitchik


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Sundance 2010: Katie Holmes, newly minted dramatic star?

January 27, 2010 |  5:39 pm

It's been a long time since Katie Holmes has had a lead film role, let alone a noteworthy one. She last appeared on the big screen as a co-lead in the critically eviscerated "Mad Money" two years ago, and before that had a respectable but small supporting part in the cigarette-lobby satire "Thank You for Smoking," a movie that began shooting exactly five years ago and came to Sundance four years back.

Katieholmes Which makes it all the more striking that she's back at the festival this year with not one but two films, the Kevin Kline-Paul Dano vehicle "The Extra Man" and the blue-blood dramedy "The Romantics." It's the latter film in which she does her most, and best, work in a long time, earning her the right to a second look from anyone who's written her off as so much tabloid fodder.

"Romantics" examines a group of seven longtime friends somewhere past the carefree part of their 20s but not quite at the point of actual responsibility. All of them gather for a wedding of two of their own -- a monied, uptight woman named Lila (Anna Paquin) who's marrying Tom (Josh Duhamel, a great catch to the women in the film but boringly milquetoast to those of us sitting in the audience watching it), having essentially grabbed him from under the nose of Holmes' Laura. Now they're at this wedding, and old grudges and desires flare up, particularly for Laura, who alternates between spurning Tom and opening herself up to him again.

The film, with its depiction of a group of poetry-quoting young aristocrats, channels some of Whit Stillman's less enjoyable impulses. And the set-up of a tight-knit group with complicated dynamics gathering for a weekend wedding at a remote estate won't win any originality points.

But what prevents the movie -- the directorial debut of an indie producer named Galt Niederhoffer, who's adapting her own novel -- from going down a tedious path is a great climactic scene in which Paquin and Holmes eloquently and angrily trade emotional zingers. And what really saves it is the performance of Holmes, perfecting the likable-but-still-complicated persona she began honing on "Dawson's Creek" a decade ago.

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