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Scarily Pretty, Huh?

I’m a big, BIG fan of properly painted posters, especially for scary movies! I’ve got an original framed print of the ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ poster hanging in my study and, often when I’m supposed to be writing, I find myself staring into the depths of it. I just love the smoky-bronze, sepia-tinged glory of the hand-painted Indiana Jones with his snaking bullwhip, the slight sneer on the lips of Ronald Lacey’s Nazi henchman, the boggle-eyed villain staring out from the jamb of a crumbling tomb door, and all the lovingly rendered, intricate detail that has gone into the background pieces, including the ominous, gilded ark.

For too long now TV and movie productions have relied on the eerie ‘perfection’ of the photoshopped poster in which an ensemble cast of lead characters stare out at you with all the frozen-faced soulessness of  a Vincent Price victim from the House of Wax! The recent X-Men: First Class poster comes to mind as a prime example of this lazy approach to movie artwork.

That’s why this piece of poster perfection for Troy Nixey’s upcoming supernatural thriller Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark caused a great big goofy grin to spread across my face. Sure, it’s a simple image – a shadow forest of hands reaching for the delicate foot of a child – but with the smoky-brown hues of an old photograph, and the carefully-painted staircase with its vein-etched marble suggesting something altogether fleshy, it achieves a quality that photoshop never could. Drawn or painted posters have a wonderful sense of depth, just like the cinema screen, which works particularly well when the poster is for a scary movie.

The film itself, I’m not so sure about. There have been a few rave reviews for the trailer, but I found myself underwhelmed. The ‘haunted house’ in which parents Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes settle with their daughter Sally (Bailee Madison) looks a little over-designed, the fixtures and fittings having an oversized and decayed opulence that reminds me of…*shudder*… Jan de Bont’s horrifying makeover of Shirley Jackson’s Hill House. That said, the film is co-written and produced by Guillermo del Toro, the mastermind behind the Hellboy movies, Cronos, The Devil’s Backbone and the beautifully scary Pan’s Labyrinth, so it could well turn out be an absolute belter.

But while we wait to find out let’s all bask in the beauty of the poster… and forget about the forest of shadow-hands creeping up the back of our chairs…

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