A young girl makes the strangest of new friends in this supernatural chiller from director Troy Nixey.
Sulking with her dad (Guy Pearce) and not exactly overjoyed at spending time with her new stepmum (Katie Holmes), Sally (Bailee Madison) gets away from it all by toddling down into the cellar of the vast, spooky, sprawling, gloomy mansion her dad has lumbered them all with.
If his hope in buying it was that he might one day end up in a cobwebby thriller, he doesn’t have to wait long. Fearless Sally fiddles with the nuts and bolts to unleash, as you do, a race of ancient monsters which have been cooped up in the drains for the past century or so.
Bizarrely Sally is convinced she’s got some new playmates despite their sinisterly-hissing tones, but she’s soon put right when the monsters start to take over, desperate to claim some human flesh to drag back down with them into their nasty hole.
Disappointingly, for all the snarling, the monsters are just too strange and too visible to be truly scary. They don’t seem to represent anything real enough to make the spine tingle.
The best thrillers are where the hapless victims never get to see - or at least not until the final moment - just what it is they are up against.
But here, for all the darkness and gloom, there’s not enough of the “this could happen to me” feeling which has to be at the heart of any genuinely-successful thriller.
The saving grace, however, is a fine performance from Bailee Madison, particularly once she’s awoken to the danger she’s let loose. Madison is terrific at creating that frustration known to all children past and present - the infuriating feeling of not being believed when you know what you are saying is true.
Maybe that’s the problem with this film. The audience won’t believe it either.