When confronted with the problem of easy methods to recreate a sequence that was comprised of dozens of disparate tales, Nickelodeon’s new Are You Afraid of the Dark? cracked the code and discovered their reply: do not try this. What the new sequence does as a substitute is discover a option to faucet into the coronary heart and soul of what made the authentic ’90s sequence so compelling to burgeoning horror followers, reimagine and remix these parts, and ship an all-new expertise whose inspirations are evident with out merely following a confirmed system. The premiere episode of the sequence is horrifying, emotional, and speaks to the followers not solely of its predecessor, however paves the means for a brand new technology of viewers.
Life is not straightforward for Rachel Carpenter (Lyliana Wray), not solely as a result of she’s the new child in Argento, Oregon but in addition as a result of she has recurring nightmares of the weird Mr. Tophat (Rafael Casal). When some of her fellow college students discover how Rachel creatively channels her concern to beat these visions, the outcast is offered with the probability of a lifetime to affix The Midnight Society, who flip their largest fears into their strongest weapons.
The authentic sequence debuted in the wake of sequence like Tales from the Crypt, The Twilight Zone, and Tales from the Darkside, requiring little or no in the realm of exposition to elucidate why a gaggle of teenagers would collect in the woods each week to inform each other tales, and even requiring an total narrative thread for these storytellers over the course of the sequence. With it being almost three a long time later, the minds behind this new endeavor knew how straightforward it will be to merely replicate that system, with author BenDavid Grabinski and director Dean Israelite not settling for placing in the naked minimal of effort and, as a substitute, tapped into what enamored audiences all these years in the past.
Throughout the ’80s, the rise of VHS and cable networks supplied younger youngsters glimpses of R-rated horror tales, typically solely being teased with these macabre tales whereas their scores prevented younger viewers from totally embracing issues that had been deemed “too scary” for them. Given the mature and generally disturbing subject material, a younger child exhibiting curiosity in monsters, murderers, and mayhem is likely to be trigger for alarm for some mother and father, leading to these curious youngsters being sheltered from confronting their fears or pursuing their pursuits, making them really feel like weirdos for being extra fascinated with Michael Myers than Mickey Mouse.
Are You Afraid of the DarK? not solely supplied these younger followers a considerably tamer expertise, but in addition depicted the way it’s that curiosity in all issues creepy that may be precisely what builds highly effective friendships, as The Midnight Society convened every week to admit these terrifying tales to at least one one other, forging their friendships in the flames of a campfire.
Grabinski and Israelite know the significance of these messages all the way down to their bones, with each factor of this new sequence capturing that. The Midnight Society does not essentially painting these children as outcasts, however as a substitute communicates that these children really feel like outcasts, regardless of how others deal with them. While one member internalizes these emotions of being bullied, one other channels that creativity into making horror movies, totally assured of their pursuits and reflecting how horror followers of all ages take delight of their passions, even when we frequently devour tales with demons and decapitations.
Far lower than a recreation of the authentic sequence, this new method feels extra like “The Midnight Society: Origins,” exploring the historical past of why children would come collectively in the center of the evening to scare each other as a substitute of going out to celebration. If the content material of the sequence wasn’t sufficient, it is evident that the lifeblood of the supply materials runs by the sequence, as Rachel’s discovery of the alternative to change into such a storyteller is paired with the delicate ominous notes of the sequence’ opening theme, which is able to absolutely ship nostalgic chills down your backbone. Additionally, the sequence is not a whole departure from the supply, as we do nonetheless get terrifying tales inside the present’s narrative.
The inventive method to the story permits Mr. Tophat to transcend a number of planes of existence in the present, turning into a larger-than-life character, due to the glee Casal is taking in bringing him to life. Mr. Tophat appears like the greatest thematic illustration of the authentic sequence, wherein villains had lower than 20 minutes to convey how horrible they had been, leading to the character feeling like he was lifted straight out of a forgotten episode and dropped into this new sequence. The nature of being a ringmaster permits him to lean into his cartoonish nefariousness with out ever feeling like he does not belong on this world. The younger performers maintain their very own alongside Casal, all of which handle to be endearing with out ever being annoying.
One realm wherein the sequence surpasses the authentic is the horror DNA operating all through it. While a lot of the authentic sequence is likely to be considerably eerie, this new sequence delves into a daunting realm and hardly ever appears like a present meant just for children. Adding to that, as if the locale of the sequence paying homage to Suspiria director Dario Argento wasn’t sufficient, Rachel’s final title pays tribute to Halloween director John Carpenter, whereas different horror icons like David Cronenberg, H.P. Lovecraft, and David Lynch all earn nods. The effectiveness of the storytelling already makes it fairly evident that Grabinski is aware of his horror, but it does not a lot really feel like these references had been methods to wink at the viewers, however they as a substitute add one other layer of enjoyment to the expertise, with any grownup viewer feeling like they’re strolling by a funhouse of their favourite movies. If you are watching with a youthful viewer, these moments permit you the alternative to introduce them to some of the greatest names in the style, bridging that generational hole.
With this new sequence consisting solely of three hour-long episodes, it will have been a squandered alternative to merely supply audiences a handful of spooky tales. Good information for viewers is we do get these signature tales, however a lot extra. Far from simply a chance to money in on the title, the new Are You Afraid of the Dark? respects and loves its viewers, as they was that viewers and know what a present like this implies to them. No matter who the viewer is likely to be, this sequence is not a lot a remake of the supply materials as a lot because it is a chance to remind viewers that, it doesn’t matter what their familiarity is likely to be with the authentic, being obsessive about horror does make you a bit of bit of a weirdo however, higher but, the world is full of loads of us weirdos who are supposed to stick collectively, pushing one another to confront our largest fears and come out the different aspect that a lot stronger.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Are You Afraid of the Dark? premieres on Nickelodeon on Friday, October 11th.