NYCC 2019: The Are You Afraid of the Dark reboot is new but also the same


Anyone of a certain age — and according to the youngsters on the Flixist staff that age is over 30 — remembers Are You Afraid of the Dark. Staying up on Saturday nights to watch Snick was some kind of right of passage, the horrific images embedded deep into your brain. The kind of horror that a kid wasn’t supposed to watch. You felt like you were getting away with something and then you regretted getting away with it because you couldn’t get to sleep.

Of course, seeing the show now its… aged. The weekly monsters are mostly cheesy and the direction is lacking but there’s still something there at the back of your nostalgia center that gives you chills. Not for younger kids, though, so now Nickelodeon is rebooting the series for a new generation and that generation is a bit harder to scare and expects a bit more from its programming. That gives us a brand new take on an old series.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? - Intro

At NYCC much of the cast, the show’s creator, and its producer were on hand to discuss this new take. It’s a very different angle from the original. Gone are the episodic stories focusing on different monsters and instead we’ll receive a 3-episode mini-series that dives into the background of the Midnight Society. For those not in the know, that’s the group of kids who told the stories on the original show, opening and closing each episode but never really developing as characters. 

Now we’re diving into their story as a Mr. Tophat begins terrorizing the group in real life. Gone of are the individual stories and replaced is a show with character development. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s losing its variety of horror. The series will be crammed full of references to both the original show and horror classics with pulls as deep as classics like Re-Animator. How that will actually translate onto a show on Nick is yet to be seen but hopefully it’ll be able to balance that desire to appeal to children and the ability actually still be scary. The film’s writer called it “High octane horror for children.”

I was not fully convinced from the clip they showed, which featured a scene from a carnival that the kids had gone to. It was jam-packed full of horror cliches but didn’t feel all that scary. Maybe, like the original, it would work for some kids. Monsters popped out the water in the “Tunnel of Love” and scary clowns chased some people. There was one moment at the end of the clip that did actually engender a scream from the audience so there is hope. I can tell you it definitely has one thing in common with the original, it looks cheap in the best way possible.  

Matthew Razak
Matthew Razak is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Flixist. He has worked as a critic for more than a decade, reviewing and talking about movies, TV shows, and videogames. He will talk your ear off about James Bond movies, Doctor Who, Zelda, and Star Trek.