Are You Afraid of the Dark reboot 1

A rebooted version of the fondly-remembered 1990s kids horror series Are You Afraid of the Dark? premieres on Nickelodeon this week, but the first episode has dropped online a couple of days early. Join the new iteration of the Midnight Society and check it out below.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? First Episode

This new version of the show is the brainchild of BenDavid Grabinski, the writer of the 2016 action film Skiptrace and director of an upcoming comedy/thriller called Happily. He developed this show, is executive producing it, and wrote the pilot, which is way outside the wheelhouse of any of his produced credits so far. But you can feel his passion for this series throughout the first episode, which was directed by Dean Isrealite, the guy who directed the most recent Power Rangers movie.

I just watched the episode and was impressed with how efficiently it dives in and sets the stage for the new series. The atmospheric opening minutes seemed a bit jarring at first, but that imagery ends up being woven throughout the story, all the way up to its spooky and unnerving ending. I’m not completely sold on the relationship between new neighbors Rachel (Lyliana Wray) and Gavin (Sam Ashe Arnold), but it’s fun to see It and It Chapter Two actor Jeremy Ray Taylor having a blast as one of the Midnight Society members and not having to worry about Pennywise or Henry Bowers terrorizing him. But it looks like he and the rest of the kids will have to contend with the mysterious Mr. Tophat instead, played here by Rafael Casal in a complete 180 from his role in last year’s terrific Blindspotting.

The original Are You Afraid of the Dark? aired on Nickelodeon from 1990 to 1996 (it also got a brief second run from 1999 to 2000), and it also centered on the Midnight Society, a group of kids who gathered around a campfire in the woods to tell each other scary stories. As to be expected from an anthology-style series, some of the stories were weaker than others, but the show provided some memorable and frightening horror imagery for its legions of young fans, and also served as a stepping stone for tons of up and coming actors including Ryan Gosling, Neve Campbell, Jay Baruchel, and Hayden Christensen.

This new version is only a three-episode limited series, which, after the ending of this episode, seems like just the right amount of time to finish off this story without overstaying its welcome or running the risk of dipping in quality. The only bad news is that after this episode, we’re already a third of the way through the whole thing.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? officially debuts on Nickelodeon on October 11, 2019.

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