Guillermo del Toro has loved the 1973 made-for-TV horror movie Don't Be Afraid of the Dark since he was a child. In fact, he's been trying to bring it to the big screen since 1998. After all these years, he finally got what he wanted: a feature film ... that's rated R.
Del Toro discussed the film at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York City. IndieWire reported:
Del Toro was proud that despite having no intense gore or brutality the film received an R rating simply for being too intense. "I actually like that. Thankfully we have Bob Berney at FilmDistrict saying 'Let's do it as an R.' Most other distributors would say 'Let's cut it, let's go back to the PG-13' but [they didn't.] Everybody praises always how brave filmmakers are but what's great is when distributors are brave...I think this movie mutilated into a PG-13 would be a shame. It's not overt, it's not gory, it has every right to be scary. And I think we need to make like, the scary pride parade and say 'We want to be super scary and we don't have to be ashamed of it.' PG-13 is the refuge of many cowards.
He also touched upon problems he had in the past with film production company Miramax. When the Weinstein brothers were in charge, they edited del Toro's and co-writer Matthew Robbins' screenplay in order to give the movie a not-so-horrific ending. Del Toro, who did not want to compromise the tone, then abandoned the project to direct Mimic. He later returned to the film—as well as its first draft—when the Weinstein brothers left.
Although del Toro loved the first movie, he made what he believed was an important change. "In the first movie the character was a powerless, almost pathologically abused, submissive woman, and I hated that idea. [So my idea was], what if by circumstance the girl is really resourceful, really smart, really powerful, but she's 11? Nobody pays attention to her. That changes everything to me."
However, this change is why del Toro is the producer and not the director of Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. (That job went to first-time director Troy Nixey.)
After all of these years, why didn't del Toro want to take the goblins by the horns? Because one of his previous movies, Pan's Labyrinth, also had a young female protagonist who had just moved to a new home.
So del Toro doesn't want a PG-13 rating and he doesn't like to repeat himself. Guillermo, we're sorry we don't say it enough: You rock.