Cocktails And Movies Take Out Theater: “Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark”

This week: Cocktails and Movies watches Katie Holmes battle dark forces (other than scientology)

Welcome to “31 Days of Highballs and Horror” as Cocktails and Movies celebrates Halloween with our latest installment of #TakeOutTheater, scary style! This week’s theme is “Don’t Go In There,” which deals with particularly haunted houses. This film is something of a diamond in the rough, as it was a fairly recent but a not so widely received entry. Guillermo Del Toro is a name that most movie geeks are familiar with, especially those that are particularly big fans of horror and sci-Fi genre thrills. His films tend to take a darker look at well-worn genre tropes, especially that of the classic fairy tale. While he didn’t direct this week’s film, he did have a steady hand in producing it, and that hand is seen throughout every well crafted aspect of the film. A well done remake of a TV movie from the 1970’s, this week’s pick is…

Cocktails and Movies #takeouttheaterThe Film

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
Directed By: Troy Nixey
Year Released: 2011
 Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, and Bailee Madison
Rating: R
Runtime:  99 Minutes
Tagline: “Fear Is Never Just Make Believe”

Sally (Madison) is in a pretty bad situation. Not only has she been passed off to her father Alex (Pearce) in terms of custody, she has to adjust to her young stepmother, Kim (Holmes), and she’s being moved to a creepy old house. A house with a particularly interesting history, and a devastating secret. A secret that comes out only when it’s dark, and feasts on only the teeth of children. Something that’s been with the house for a long, long time, and has its sights set on Sally, threatening anything that comes between her and it.

A lot of people didn’t really like this movie, at least if its IMDB score of 5.6 and its failure to make its budget back are anything to go by. Not to mention this was a film which had been completed and was collecting dust on Miramax’s shelves during their break up with Disney, and probably would have never been released if it wasn’t for FilmDistrict stepping in and buying the rights. (Perhaps this is what we need to happen in order to see Snowpiercer in the United States.) And yet, besides its troubled pedigree, I really enjoyed this movie.

A lot of that enjoyment comes out of Del Toro’s fascination with, and perversion of, old world fairy tales. Not the usually bright and sunny affairs we came to know and love through Disney, but the dark and painful tales that usually end up with someone dead and a lesson learned. That is the type of story that Del Toro loves to tell, and his screenplay certainly shows it as young Sally deals with a mostly absent father (who’s too focused on renovating his hew house for a magazine shoot, and hopefully profitable real estate sale) and a stepmother she isn’t ready to trust yet. Through the ensuing crisis, we see Kim adjusting to being a mother for the first time and we see Sally adjusting to her new mother. This relationship is crucial to the film’s events, as any scares that come from separating the two need a strong relationship to draw emotional weight from. By the end of the movie, we see Katie Holmes go through an Ellen Ripley-esque journey from helpless maiden to bad ass maternal figure, and it’s more believable than you’d think.

Of course, what haunted house movie would be complete without a creepy house. Blackwood Manor, the setting of Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark, is in turn scary and beautiful with its older gothic charm. Between the house’s dual nature, the burgeoning Sally/Kim relationship, and even the evolving threat against Sally herself, the film explores the dynamics of light and dark in interpersonal relationships. Sally’s initial hostility is eventually turned towards an appreciation for her stepmother, just as her initial encounter with her new “friends” takes a turn for the worse when they reveal their true nature.  Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark tells the tale of a girl who feels alone in the world learning to trust the right people, and learning to look past what’s presented in front of her. It is also the tale of a woman who learns how to be a mother, and takes up arms to protect the little girl in her care. But above all else, it’s an entertainingly scary movie with a rich visual flare and excellent storytelling to spare.

As usual with out #TakeOutTheater picks, we like to offer a sidecar of refreshment to the evening’s entertainment. With this particular film, we’ve found an interestingly relevant cocktail that links into the monsters of the film. It’s a mild spoiler if you want to go in a blank slate, so if you like you can skip the paragraph next paragraph and go straight to the drink recipe.

The Drink

If you’re reading this, then you know (or don’t mind being told) that the villains of this film are perversions of The Tooth Fairy mythos. And what does every child have that could fit perfectly into an adult drink recipe? A sweet tooth! With a couple variations floating around out there, I went with the most tantalizing sounding of the bunch.

Nicky’s Sweet Tooth Apparently no picture exists as everyone drinks it before it can be photographed…

2 oz Kahlua® coffee liqueur
2 oz Bailey’s® Irish cream
1 oz amaretto almond liqueur
3 oz chocolate milk


Stir ingredients together in a highball glass. Optional; add a small scoop of ice cream, chocolate fudge stirred and mixed, or a healthy dose of whipped cream on top.

Thanks again to Drinks Mixer for helping us find yet another colorful libation to go along with our latest at home viewing pick. Also, thanks to all of you for coming back for another installment of #TakeOutTheater! Got any suggestions for film and drink pairings? Send ‘em our way through the Comments below, our Facebook/Twitter pages, or just email us. We’ll see you again next week!