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Recommended age 8-12
90 minutes
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ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK cover image Click to play video trailer
"The outside world is dull and dreary," so the TV series Are You Afraid of the Dark? will surely give you the "thrills and chills" you have been waiting for. From creepy clowns to evil music, this show will give you a fright. Not in the in-your-face kind of way but in a more sinister way. You may never bat an eye, but you will feel at least a cold shiver down your spine from time to time. But don't you worry! You are safe at home on your couch because everything you see is "all part of the show."

What starts off as a typical high school show with the new girl in town, turns into one where she is invited to the middle of the woods by the Midnight Society to tell the scariest story she can. After she tells the tale of Mr. Tophat and the Carnival of Doom, things get even spookier when they start to come true. Right from the start, daunting violins and accordions are played in a lifeless forest with laughing children in the background and scorpions in the air. Then you are asked... "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" A match is lit under it and the forbidding title sequence slowly turns dark. This is an excellent way of teasing this show, and I absolutely love the vibe.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? takes classic horror elements and redoes it well. The earthy music, airy and watery, mixed with the violin and accordion sprinkled with some laughter makes for a creepy juxtaposition of mood.

Throughout the series, we are taken on a rollercoaster of doubt, as plot twists are everywhere. Some of the shots are very well done, like when each kid gets the flyer for The Carnival of Doom and the camera cuts to each person's fearful eyes. There is also the scene where Rachel (Lyliana Wray) and Gavin (Sam Ashe Arnold) are attacked in a carnival ride and the lights are flashing to add uncertainty.

My one piece of criticism for this show is that the end feels a bit rushed. Unlike the classic series in which each episode is a different story, this version of the series builds up a lot of tension throughout the episodes and doesn't leave quite enough room for answers to be revealed at the end. But I have to credit Are You Afraid of the Dark? as it has high production values and has epic moments that we usually only see in action movie-- such as when the kids walk away from cars with the headlights on and rock music blares in the background.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? has some content that may cause young kids to feel squeamish, especially if they are afraid of bugs. Friendship is a big component of this show even if it might not seem like it at first. We are presented with a question: would you rather have all the materialistic wealth in the world or simply have good friends by your side? And this show promotes the idea of having a close group of friends.

I rate this series 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 11 to 18. Are You Afraid of the Dark? is available on DVD on Tuesday, August 11, 2020, and includes three fan favorite episodes from the original series in English, French and Spanish.

Reviewed by Anokhi L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

see youth comments
Re-imagined for a new generation, Nickelodeon's all-new version of '90's kids' cult classic Are You Afraid of the Dark?'s three-part limited series follows members of an entirely new Midnight Society, who tell a terrifying tale of the Carnival of Doom and its evil ringmaster Mr. Top Hat, only to witness the shocking story come frightfully to life and prepare for an adventure beyond their wildest nightmares. The new members of the Midnight Society are: Rachel, played by Lyliana Wray; Gavin, played by Sam Ashe Arnold; Akiko, played by Miya Cech; Graham, played by Jeremy Taylor; and Louise, played by Tamara Smart. The Carnival of Doom's ringmaster, Mr. Tophat, is played by Rafael Casal (Blindspotting). Includes three episodes.
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