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Comic Con 2011: FilmDistrict talks "Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark" and "Drive"

by Trisha Leigh

Film District arrived at Comic Con with an army of filmmakers dedicated to brining quality movies to screens, even if they have to cut through the Hollywood red tape to get it done. The Comic Con audience was treated to extended previews for two upcoming films, "Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark," written and directed by Guillermo Del Toro, and starring Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce, and "Drive," directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and starring Carey Mulligan and Ryan Gosling.

Del Toro and Refn stole the show on the panel, spouting curse words, comparing directing movies to sex, and relaying hilarious stories from the sets and meetings with their casts. They were joined on the panel by Guy Pearce, Carey Mulligan, and Ron Pearlman.

"Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark" is the newest scary movie offering from the director of "Pan’s Labrynth," and if the trailer is representative of the film as a whole, he’s not going to disappoint us this time around. We saw a montage trailer type clip of Katie Holmes’ daughter being terrorized by whispers coming from the walls of their house.

It reminds me a little of a Dean Koontz novel I read once. I didn’t sleep for a week.

Del Toro made the comment that the creatures were one of the things he fought for, because others thought they needed to be bigger to be scarier. Del Toro maintained “little BLEEPers, I fought with the studio over making them bigger, but I think the fact that they’re small…that they could be hiding behind the dresser or really anywhere…makes them scarier.”

After watching the trailer, I couldn’t agree more.

It is rated R, though they originally tried to go for a PG-13 rating. When Del Toro asked what he would have to change to get the lower MPAA, the rep replied, “pretty much all of it.” Del Toro admitted that when he watched the film back he realized they were right, and that several of the scenes were very intense. That said, “if it’s R, it’s R. BLEEP it.”


I wish I could include my audio of the entire interview, because you would pee your pants with laughter, but I’m pretty sure this site has a PG-13 rating.

The movie looks as though it’s going to be creepy, and frightening, and along the lines of the previously delivered horror films from Del Toro. In other words, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

"Drive" is a story about a man who drives stunt vehicles for a living. He falls in love with a woman whose husband is in prison. I’m not clear on the details from there, but something related to her incarcerated husband puts her and her daughter in danger, and Ryan Gosling’s character in the role of protector. This film isn’t going to pull any punches, based on a very sexy, very violent, very graphic preview scene that had the entire audience covering their eyes and gasping in disbelief. Let’s just say it involved Ryan’s boot and a dude’s face that wasn’t a face for too long.

Ick city.

Nicolas Winding Refn, the mind behind "Valhalla Rising," kept up with Del Toro’s antics and added some of his own. He compared directing a film that was well casted to sex, because “even when it’s bad it’s still good” and came up with a great quote about what directing is – “inspiring everyone else to do their best and then putting your name on it.”

He told an amazingly hilarious story about how he came to the film, which Ryan Gosling found and wanted to do before going after Nicolas Winding Refn to direct. Apparently Refn agreed to meet with Gosling but arrived hopped up on cold medicine and nearly blew his shot at the job. What saved him was singing an enthusiastic rendition of "Can’t Fight This Feeling" by REO Speedwagon; the pop ballad gave him a burst of inspiration that allowed he and Gosling to connect over the heart and soul of the movie.

I promise it’s a funny story, just not the way I told it. Again, I have the audio but it’s the opposite of clean content.

As for Carey Mulligan, she stayed pretty quiet throughout the panel but honestly, I don’t know how she would have gotten a word in. If she had, it would have been anticlimactic after everything the men had said up to that point. She did claim that she chose to be part of the film because she “wanted to work with nicolas Winding Refn, not because of the plot or the character.”

“My job in this film was to fall in love with Ryan Gosling…rough, right? He’s great, he’s so sweet…everyone loved him.”

I, for one, would have loved him a lot more if he’d, you know, showed up for Comic Con. I forgive you, Ryan. Just this once.

"Drive" wowed audiences on the film festival circuit and comes to theatres September 16, 2011.

"Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark" premieres August 26, 2011.