“If there are any kids in the room, it’s too late,” Guillermo del Toro told the crowds at Hall H on Friday afternoon — after he had already let loose a few good-natured profanities and prepared to show some creepy footage from a horror film he godfathered, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.”
It was the first of several characteristically colorful comments form the “Hellboy” auteur. (“The movie is as serious as an attack of gonorrhea,” when asked whether “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” contained any comedy.)
The movie he was here to promote, a remake of a 1970s horror film, he helped write and produce follows some of Del Toro’s familiar preoccupations: A young girl finds herself in a new and scary home and must grapple with forces that haunt it.
Katie Holmes stars and visual artist Troy Nixey makes his feature debut. The last time Del Toro godfathered a budding filmmaker’s work, it became the extremely well-received “The Orphanage,” J.A. Bayona‘s Gothic ghost story.
This picture, which was developed with Miramax but in the wake of the division’s closure will be released by Disney, was rated R despite filmmaker ambitions to the contrary. “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?”
Del Toro took a dig at a certain kind of 21st century horror (without naming names): “What I find disheartening is when it’s postmodern and you say the material is smarter than the genre. Because … the horror film is smart enough.”
And he explained a love of horror as a certain kind of unconscious desire.”It’s like a sexual impulse. If you like high-heeled shoes, you’re just going to like it.”
More shortly from the man himself.
– Steven Zeitchik
Guillermo del Toro photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
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