Backstory: How ‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark’ Got Its R Rating


"Don't Be Afraid of the Dark," the horror film starring Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce, has very little foul language, no blood and no nudity. It has that little critter in the photo there -- and that's not Katie Holmes, stop making that joke, you jerks -- but that doesn't seem enough to push it anything past a PG-13 rating. PG-13 allows filmmakers one free "eff-word" and even a sideboob or two. "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" has neither. So why is it rated R?

Producer and co-scripter Guillermo Del Toro was confused at first, but then he took it as a badge of honor. The MPAA, in its eternal not-so-infinite wisdom, decided that it would get an R-rating simply because of "pervasive scariness." It just freaked them out too much. Del Toro crowed:

"This movie was in mind for a PG-13, but I will say with great honor the non-negotiable R-rating from the MPAA, I wear as a badge of honor," del Toro quipped before the screening. "Whatever they saw that they thought was 'R,' we didn't want to cut. So I don't know why, but it's an R for 'pervasive scariness.' It's like getting an award for sexiness; I'll take it."

For the record, Guillermo Del Toro has won several awards for sexiness. As far as we're concerned, once "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" had its "R" secured, it should have just thrown in some sex scenes, foul language and geysers of blood. If you're stuck with an R-rating, you might as well earn it.

Guillermo Del Toro's Don't Be Afraid of the Dark: Too Scary for the MPAA? [Movieline]