Premiere a horror movie is not something usual in the middle of summer. A priori it might seem like a bad commercial move, but given the scarcity of horror titles in the summer, it can attract horror lovers to see ‘Don’t be afraid (Cobweb)’. Especially if we understand the film as a type of horror film with no other pretensions than to entertain due to the lightness of the product.
And it is that ‘Don’t be afraid’ is a popcorn movie, summer, with a duration of 88 minutes and that seeks to entertain without pretending to be ‘The Exorcist’ of the new century. If we know this in advance, we will enjoy the film more. The film picks up the trail of ‘Malignant’, by James Wan, or the style of Mike Flanagan; with a plot that does not rest and with a moment of relief thanks to the laughter that either takes you out of the movie, or puts you fully into it.
‘Don’t be afraid’ stars Lizzy Caplan, Antony Starr and the young Woody Norman, and follows the life of an eight-year-old boy who is misunderstood by his parents after telling them that he hears some chilling knocking on the wall. Based on ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ by Edgar Allan Poe, it is directed by Samuel Bodin, who earned the title of person to be reckoned with in the world of horror thanks to the series ‘Marianne’; and has a script by Chris Thomas Devlin, responsible for ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ (2022).
At first glance, we might expect a terrifying movie that gets under our skin and manages to keep us awake for several nights of fear. But nothing beyond reality. Although ‘Don’t be afraid’ begins with a horror scene, this one is somewhat bland and fails to capture. Although it is quite a declaration of intent, we have come here to have a good time, it seems that the director wants to tell us.
Peter, the 8-year-old boy, hears strange knocking on his bedroom wall. Room belonging to a gloomy old house that creates a strange atmosphere. This atmosphere is accompanied by static and silent shots that keep you in suspense, although without reaching the level of Mike Flanagan. It is then that the child’s mother enters the scene, showing us some outfits that seem to be from another era. Any explanation of the reason for living in such a house that seems to be decorated by Count Dracula himself and with a mother dressed from another era? Well, we think not. It seems that Bodin has gone to the Flanagan school of style.
Poor Peter suffers attacks at school from his classmates and also at home from the misunderstanding of his parents, who punish him over and over again for inventing that a girl is speaking to him from the other side of the wall. Although there is a shortage of scares, some more would not have hurt, the film does not slow down, things happen on the screen all the time. Thank you, Bodin, for bringing us a movie under 90 minutes in the two-hour period.
While we discover little by little what happens in this house, we arrive at the third act of the film in which the mystery is solved. And Bodin decides to change inspiration. We went from the atmosphere of Flanagan to the rampant violence of Janes Wan and her ‘Evil’ her. Although the director already gave us some hint that this was going to be an irrepressible film with the odd joke in between, in the last act he lets loose and unleashes the wildest action. With some moments with surprise, ‘Don’t be afraid’ is worth it for the last thirty minutes of footage. Script twists, action, blood, violence and unhealthy moments, although yes, with little scares or terror.
The right trick of the actors
Little Peter will finally uncover who is that presence behind the walls and will also fatally discover why his parents, Caplan and Starr, are so hard on him. Special mention to the two adult protagonists of the film. Caplan is, unsurprisingly, spectacular as the deranged mother. Her tics, her hysteria, her way of conveying madness elevate the film. Caplan is capable of filling the space with just his presence, and even stealing a few laughs with his interpretation. On the other hand, there is Starr, who although her participation is briefer, she manages to convey that unhealthy attitude that so captivated viewers as Patriot in ‘The Boys’.
In short, ‘Don’t be afraid’ isn’t going to be the new ‘Hereditary’, but it doesn’t pretend to be either. Although its duration and violence make us have an entertaining time, the film could use a little more personality. They don’t want to sell us the horror movie of the year, but at times it seems like an after-dinner film. Thanks to the last section of the film, which has that crazy and violent action, although yes, with little terror, the film becomes more bearable. If you want to enjoy some time away from Barbies or giant sharks, you have a horror option to go to with no greater objective than to have a good time.
The best: Lizzy Caplan, the duration and the last section of the film.
Worst: The entire first hour lacks character and seems too cheap at times. Few effective scares.