Thursday, November 07, 2019

What to Expect from Nickelodeon's ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’ Reboot

The cast of Nickelodeon's Are You Afraid of the Dark? recently sat down with ExtraTV to promote the highly anticipated reboot of the '90s Nickelodeon hit!



The '90s kids’ cult classic is coming back for a three-part limited series, reimagined for a new generation. The three new episodes will have members of the Midnight Society telling a terrifying story about the Carnival of Doom and its evil ringmaster.

Nickelodeon is preparing for the return of The Midnight Society with the all-new Are You Afraid of the Dark? three-part limited series event. Based on the ‘90s kids’ cult classic, and reimagined for a new generation, part one of Are You Afraid of the Dark? will debut on Friday, Oct. 11, at 7:00 p.m. (ET/PT), with parts two and three to follow Oct. 18, and Oct. 25, respectively.

Across the three hour-long episodes, Are You Afraid of the Dark? will follow members of an entirely new Midnight Society, who tell a terrifying tale of the Carnival of Doom and its evil ringmaster Mr. Tophat, only to witness the shocking story come frightfully to life. In the just-released trailer, viewers meet the new members of the Midnight Society, get a glimpse at the uncertainty that awaits and prepare for an adventure beyond their wildest nightmares.


The new members of the Midnight Society are: Rachel, played by Lyliana Wray (Top Gun: Maverick); Gavin, played by Sam Ashe Arnold (Best.Worst.Weekend.Ever.); Akiko, played by Miya Cech (Rim of the World, Always Be My Maybe); Graham, played by Jeremy Taylor (IT: Chapter Two, Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween); and Louise, played by Tamara Smart (Artemis Fowl, The Worst Witch). The Carnival of Doom’s ringmaster, Mr. Tophat, is played by Rafael Casal (Blindspotting).

Are You Afraid of the Dark? is produced by ACE Entertainment (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, The Perfect Date) with ACE founder Matt Kaplan and Spencer Berman serving as executive producers. The series is written by BenDavid Grabinski (Skiptrace, Happily) and directed by Dean Israelite (Power Rangers movie, Project Almanac), both of whom are also executive producers. Chris Foss is also an executive producer.

One of the Nickelodeon’s most iconic series from the ‘90s, the original Are You Afraid of the Dark? delivered riveting stories of horror to young audiences, all from a kid’s perspective. Are You Afraid of the Dark? is owned by DHX and was created by D.J. MacHale and Ned Kandel, who are also executive producers on the project.

Follow Are You Afraid of the Dark? on Facebook!

From The A.V. Club:

What's your story: Meet Are You Afraid Of The Dark's new Midnight Society

When Nickelodeon announced it was bringing back Are You Afraid Of The Dark? for a spooky three-part limited series, the internet got goosebumps. Would the stories still thrill and chill? Would the show satisfy both nostalgic adults and scare-happy kids? And would the show still be incredibly Canadian?

The chilling answers to those questions will be fully revealed when the first episode of the series premieres Oct. 11, but for a small sneak peak, The A.V. Club sat down with the show’s all-new Midnight Society while on a set visit up in Vancouver. In the clip [here], the kids tell us about their characters, from the secretly dorky cheerleader to the Cronenberg-obsessed film buff.

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From Mashable:

How ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark’ taps into the power of telling scary stories as kids

The 90s Nickelodeon cult classic Are You Afraid of the Dark didn't just scar an entire generation of youths with terrifying images we'll never forget. What made it stand out from contemporaries like Goosebumps was the conceit of the Midnight Society itself, with kids presenting spooky tales they made up themselves each week around a campfire for the approval of their peers.

Unlike other kids' horror anthologies, Are You Afraid of the Dark empowered its young protagonists to be the tellers of their own scary stories rather than just the victims in them. And this fundamental difference is the reason why the show continues to have such a lasting impact on today's horror, inspiring the now grown-up storytellers of our time to get into the genre at an early age.

"A big chunk of the filmmakers I know in this industry watched Are You Afraid of the Dark. It functionally served as an introduction for a lot of us," says BenDavid Grabinski, the showrunner behind the new revival and an obsessive fan of the original.

The three-part series reboot, which premieres on Oct. 11, leans even further into the concept of the Midnight Society as a group of kids expressing their creativity through the horror genre. Protagonist Rachel is an artist who doodles nightmares straight out of Lovecraft. Another member, Akiko, is an amateur horror filmmaker.

All of them find something empowering in facing their fears and anxieties through their imagination, and doing it together.

At the heart of this rebooted Midnight Society is the question of why we love scary stories at all, why telling them around a campfire is a tradition as old as time, and why it's an integral part of growing up.

"Storytelling isn't just a way to communicate, but also a way we deal with major life changes and trauma," says Grabinski.

Because of its young storytellers, Are You Afraid of the Dark was always deeply grounded in the metaphorical monsters of growing up.


Telling stories around a campfire is a tradition as old as time. Credit: Michael Courtney / Nickelodeon

"As a kid, it's fun to watch people your age deal with these gigantic, seemingly insurmountable situations. There's something therapeutic about it, watching them ultimately succeed," says Grabinski. "There was definitely a level of audience participation to the show in that way."

A huge part of the first episode's plot revolves around Rachel working to come up with the best story possible. She ends up using a recurring nightmare that's terrorized her all her life, spinning it into a narrative she can control rather than a terror she has to keep running away from.

Later, a fellow member delivers a line that basically describes what made Are You Afraid of the Dark and its campfire storytelling premise such a powerful influence on us as kids.

"That's the whole fun of the Midnight Society: We get scared, we get to let our imaginations run wild. But then we get to go home and sleep safe and sound in our beds, knowing that the real world is much simpler. And nothing is out there going bump in the night," he says.

Aside from being inspirational to young storytellers, Are You Afraid of the Dark was also aspirational. At least that's what Rafael Casal, who stars as the reboot's villain, believes.

"Everybody wanted to be in the Midnight Society, this group of friends who are all outcasts, doing something a little dangerous, telling each other scary stories to build up a tolerance for it," says Casal, who's also the actor-writer-director behind Blindspotting. "Because when you're a kid, scary stories acknowledge that fear is real, that the world is scary. And that camaraderie can help you face it."

As Casal points out, the Midnight Society really did serve as a training ground for amateur storytellers. They didn't just take anyone: It was competitive, and you got voted in based on the merits of your skill and spooky tales.

"That's what I love about the Midnight Society, it's this excuse to start, finish, and present something you've created from your imagination to other people," he says. "That's what it was for me, at least. It gave you this template for what you can do, this idea of kids coming together and sharing art."

This particular iteration of the series is about what happens when that sense of danger and imagination gets out of hand. Rachel's story about a carnival of horrors basically walks out of her imagination and into their town IRL.

This sort of blurring of reality and fiction — of your imagination spilling into the real world — wasn't just part of the original Are You Afraid of the Dark, either. Some trace the culture of internet creepypasta back to the Midnight Society. At the very least, it's easy to see why the millennial generation that aspired to be part of the Society would turn the internet into a haven for amateur horror storytellers all competing to tell the one that shakes the most people to their core.


Rafael Casa as Mr. Tophat is like a more flamboyant Slenderman. Image: Michael Courtney / Nickelodeon

In fact, two young members of the cast pointed to creepypasta stories as their earliest introductions into horror that they'll never forget, which was exactly what Are You Afraid of the Dark did for the millennial generation.

"Jeff the Killer kept me up all night. I couldn't sleep for days," says Jeremy Ray Taylor, who stars as Graham in Are You Afraid of the Dark as well as the IT movies. "What's scary about creepypasta is how it takes an image of a normal, everyday thing, then totally twists it. It makes you think, well, what if that was happening right now?"

Looking back, that's also what the scariest, most scarring Are You Afraid of the Dark episodes did too: a pinball machine corrupted by an evil wizard, or the pool in your backyard suddenly becoming infested with skeletons trying to kill you, or a comic book character giving your friends and family permanent grins.

All of it turned fun, innocent childhood play into a death trap. Which is also the whole M.O. of the king of creepypasta himself, Slender Man.


The kids in 'Are You Afraid of the Dark' overcome fear by coming together. Image: Michael Courtney / Nickelodeon

"I do see a correlation between the Midnight Society and creepypasta. It's just regular people making everyday life terrifying through stories. But now it's on the internet," says Taylor.

Another cast member, Sam Ashe Arnold (who plays Rachel's love interest Gavin), also identifies with the focus on storytelling in the reboot. At sixteen years old, he's already started writing two novels. But the first stories he told were around a campfire when he was even younger, exactly like the Midnight Society.

"I think that kids have always been naturally creative. But nowadays, there's more outlets for them to get their work out there," Arnold says.

Now more than ever, there are Midnight Societies everywhere. We just call them by different names, like r/creepypasta. But they serve the same function, which is building a sense of community through stories that reveal the most vulnerable parts of ourselves.

"It's really a show about a girl who's never had any close friends and over the course of the episodes — spoiler alert — she gains really good friends. It's just about the importance of friendship," says Grabinski.

While it's not explicit in the show, Grabinski implies that this new Midnight Society also isn't necessarily a continuation of the original one. It's possible (if not likely) that there are Midnight Societies all over the world, passing the torch down to newer generations that come together through the same campfire storytelling.

"Everyone's got a different reason to love being scared, but I think it reminds us how human we are and what things really rock us to our core," says Casal. "You learn something about yourself."



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From CBS2 Los Angeles:

Actor Jeremy Taylor Talks Reboot Of 'Are You Afraid Of The Dark?'



Actor Jeremy Taylor drops by the KCAL9 studio to talk about his new Nickelodeon miniseries "Are You Afraid Of The Dark?", a reboot of the original hit 1990s series.

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From USA Today:

'Are You Afraid of the Dark?': Nickelodeon's revamped reboot keeps scares of the original

NEW YORK — The Midnight Society is gathered back around the spooky campfire.

But Nickelodeon is submitting for your approval a completely different take on the cult classic "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" in a limited series reboot premiering Friday (7 EDT/PDT) and continuing Oct. 18 and Oct. 25.

The show's creators wanted to explore more of the lives of the Midnight Society's teen members. In the original series, they just met to share scary stories.

In the new version, new girl Rachel (Lyliana Wray) joins the Midnight Society, whose members include cool boy-next-door Gavin (Sam Ashe Arnold), straightforward, resourceful Akiko (Miya Cech), germaphobe comic relief Graham (Jeremy Taylor) and loyal Louise (Tamara Smart).


The cast and executive producers of Nickelodeon's "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" reboot, from left, executive producer Matt Kaplan, Jeremy Taylor who plays Graham, Sam Ashe Arnold who plays Gavin, Lyliana Wray who plays Rachel, Rafael Casal who plays Mr. Tophat, Miya Cech who plays Akiko and writer BenDavid Grabinski. Photo: Felecia Wellington Radel.

But these are more than the same stories of yesteryear.

We follow the members as they encounter a real Carnival of Doom from their fireside tale and its frightful ringmaster Mr. Tophat (Rafael Casal).

Executive producer Matt Kaplan and writer BenDavid Grabinski grew up with the original series, which aired from 1990 to 1996 and then had a brief revival in 1999. While they wanted to remain faithful to it, they also wanted to test the limits of where they could take this version.

Grabinski felt the original was "high-octane horror for children" – he was definitely a fan – and he wanted to balance that with attracting a new audience of children unfamiliar with the original show.

"We often asked ourselves, is this too scary for a 10-year-old?" Grabinski said in an interview this week at New York Comic Con.

"There's a lot of scary stuff out there," said executive producer Matt Kaplan. "So, that wasn't going to separate us. I think that if we leaned into the Midnight Society, which is one of the things everyone remembers from the original, I felt like we all were going to (be in) a good position, especially since we found such an amazing cast.."

But '90s Snick fans tuning in for a trip down memory lane will find callbacks and in this version. Even the rebooted intro features the same theme, and images of swings and a hand holding a match.

"We definitely have some fun characters coming back that are from the original show," Kaplan said.

A clip from the series shown at New York Comic Con [... .]

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From HollywoodLife:

‘Are You Afraid Of The Dark?’ Cast Teases‘Throwbacks’ To The Original & RevealsThere Was Bear On Set

The Midnight Society is making a comeback. ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’ is returning as a limited series and HL sat down with the cast to talk about nostalgia, their characters, and, yes, a bear on set.

The ’90s cult classic Are You Afraid of the Dark? is returning with a three-part limited series that’s been reimagined for a new generation starting on Oct. 11. The episodes will explore an entirely new Midnight Society. The group will witness their terrifying tale about the Carnival of Doom and its evil ringmaster Mr. Tophat come to life before their eyes. HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with cast members Lyliana Wray, Sam Ashe Arnold, Miya Cech, and Jeremy Ray Taylor during New York Comic Con about the exciting series and being a part of The Midnight Society.


Lyliana plays Rachel, the new girl in town. “She is a little shy and awkward and quirky but she’s a very talented artist as well,” Lyliana told HollywoodLife. “Throughout the 3 episodes, she gets to grow as a person through The Midnight Society and through her storytelling.” Sam reveals that Gavin is a “geeky jock who has a lot of love in his heart for his friends.” Miya plays Akiko, who is an aspiring director. “She’s very no-nonsense,” Miya admits. “She’s a very strong character.” Jeremy stars as Graham, who is a total germaphobe. “He’s scared of absolutely everything,” Jeremy reveals. “He’s a vintage horror movie lover and aspiring composer. But in the end, he’d do anything for his friends.”

The group also teased what to expect over the course of the 3 episodes. “Expect it to be scary, obviously,” Miya said. “I think for each of the 3 episodes, you can expect some comedy, some horror, and some really nice teamwork.” Lyliana added that the core of the show is about “teamwork, friendship, and family.”

The limited series will definitely include nods to the original series, which ran from 1990 to 1996 and then again from 1999 to 2000. “The original watchers of Are You Afraid of the Dark? will love this one because it’s a different take, but you’ll still feel the nostalgia of The Midnight Society and there will be lots of throwbacks and nods to the original,” Jeremy revealed. Sam also noted, “We get to explore more of these kids’ lives a lot more than in the original, which I think is very exciting.” Lyliana stressed that “overcoming fears” is a major aspect of the show. “Throughout the 3 episodes, each person has something they’re scared of, but in the end get to face it together,” she said.

Almost the entire shoot was done at night. The campfire scenes were filmed in the actual woods. Filming was even scarier than they even originally intended. “There was a bear on set,” Miya revealed. “It was scary… It was terrifying.” Production had to use a laser to make sure the bear steered clear of filming!

All 4 cast members were born well after the show was on the air. “My mom was really into it,” Miya said. “She was really into the series and showed me some clips when I got the test offer and I actually really liked it.” Lyliana didn’t know about the original show before auditioning but got to see some of it after she was cast. “It was definitely a lot spookier than I expected it to be,” she said. The same goes for Jeremy for Sam. Jeremy’s sister-in-law is a “giant fan” of the original series and Sam heard about “people’s fond memories of the original” after he’d booked the show. Are You Afraid of the Dark? will debut Oct. 11 at 7:00 p.m. ET on Nickelodeon, with parts two and three to follow Oct. 18, and Oct. 25.

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From TV Guide:

Here's How the Are You Afraid of the Dark? Reboot Puts the Midnight Society Into the Action

Fans of the original Nickelodeon series Are You Afraid of the Dark? should prepare themselves for one major format change in the reboot: Instead of just sharing their fireside tales of ghouls and lake monsters and other things that go bump in the night, the new members of the Midnight Society will actually find themselves inside the story. And while the three episodes of the miniseries are all separate, they'll all be centered around the group's showdown at the Carnival of Doom, as one character's chilling nightmare will come to life.

The decision to focus more on the pint-sized storytellers and let them experience the horror action this time around was the result of creator BenDavid Grabsinki wanting to know what it would be like to be invited into the group and how it would feel to be under the pressure of telling one of the stories around the campfire. But even more than that, he said, it was about the characters themselves.

"The fun of that idea is the Midnight Society are fundamentally horror nerds who know everything about stories that are scary, and having them deal with that creates a different dynamic because they know how these things play out," he said. "They're detectives ... they'll interrupt people and say, 'Oh yeah, we understand — we know what's going on here,' which can annoy some of the characters because they know the tropes."

The Are You Afraid of the Dark? Creator Knew Better Than to Totally Change the OG Intro

The new Midnight Society is made up of several kids, and each of them has their own story to tell. The key members include Miya Cech as Akiko, whom the actress describes as an "aspiring director who loves horror" and is very "no-nonsense and lays the facts down." Then there's Jeremy Ray Taylor's Graham, whom the actor says is both a vintage horror fan and a "giant germaphobe." "He's scared of everything, but also when it comes to his friends, he puts that aside, he does everything for them," Taylor explained.

Sam Ashe Arnold stars as Gavin, the "popular kid" who gets weak in the knees for the cool new girl Rachel, played by Lyliana Wray. "He's a member of the Midnight Society, and he is cool around pretty much everyone but Rachel. It's a weakness for him. He turns into a goofball," Arnold explained.

Perhaps Gavin's reaction is about more than just a schoolboy crush, though, because it turns out that Rachel's the catalyst for all of their problems. "One of her drawings gets noticed — of Mr. Tophat — by Graham, and she gets to join the Midnight Society," explained Wray, who described her character as shy and awkward, but a very talented artist. "She tells her story about Mr. Tophat and the Carnival of Doom. And they all wake up the next day and discover that the carnival is real."

Mr. Tophat, a character created for Rafael Casal as an "evil Willy Wonka" type, presides over all the mayhem afoot in this crazy carnival adventure. He's the master of ceremonies at the Carnival of Doom, as well as the "protagonist" in all of Rachel's dreams (and nightmares). And although the choice to go for a Jack Skellington-type of persona might've been risky, everyone knew right away that Mr. Tophat was just the thrill the show needed as soon as they saw the first footage.

"More than scary, it was just awesome. It looked really, really cool," Casal said of his well-documented reaction to the first take. "The first time you see the shots you decide whether or not you buy it, and we knew in that moment that oh, yeah, this is working. This villain has to be the polar end of terror, so it has to sell. I was excited that it worked."

"He's either a really awesome bad guy or he's David S. Pumpkins," Grabinski added of his villainous creation. "He wasn't David S. Pumpkins, so we knew we did a good job."

Producer Matt Kaplan — who moved the project from Paramount, where it would've been a film, over to Nickelodeon when Brian Robbins was named head of the network — said that while the primary challenge was to pivot to the Midnight Society as the centerpiece of the story, maintaining the eerie essence of the original, which had been his favorite show, was also essential. "I think we wanted to make sure that not only do we lean into the Midnight Society and dive deeper into their characters ... [but] how do we maintain that level of scares," Kaplan said.

In addition to plopping the characters in the middle of nowhere, in a creepy carnival set into the woods, producers also aimed to recapture the spirit of the vintage version through Easter eggs, like an intro that honors the original and some familiar baddies among Mr. Tophat's kaleidoscope of carnival minions — among them, Zeebo the Clown and the Ghastly Grinner. Plus, some scenes borrow largely from the creators' favorite episodes. Grabinski, for example, pointed to "The Tale of the Dead Man's Float" as the episode that "traumatized" him in his youth, and since that segment revolved around a skeleton and a pool, it likely inspired the miniseries' use of several water sequences in the new iteration. "I just wanted to do a bunch of homages. There are multiple scary water moments of things coming out of the water. And I don't want to spoil it, but I will tell you that they are probably the scariest stuff on the show," he said.

While Are You Afraid of the Dark? is currently being presented as a miniseries, Kaplan said that there could be more where that came from. "I think we all went into this with the intention that there would be many, many, many more," he admitted, adding that the structural shift of the Midnight Society becoming players in their own stories is here to stay. "I think we'll always lean into the Midnight Society, how that story unfolds, whether you go with an anthology, whether you go extend it into more episodes, that's something we'll react to when we see what people think."

Are You Afraid of the Dark is a limited, three-episode series that premieres on Nickelodeon on Friday, Oct. 11 at 7/6c. Parts two and three follow on Friday, Oct. 18 and Friday, Oct. 25 at 7/6c.

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From Access:

'Are You Afraid Of The Dark?' Cast Spills Spooky Secrets From The '90s Reboot



Brace yourselves, '90s kids! "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" has kicked things up a notch from the classic you remember. Newest Midnight Society members Lyliana Wray, Jeremy Taylor, Sam Ashe and Miya Cech tell Access all about Nickelodeon's reboot of the spooky favorite and the campfire storytellers they play. Have any of them ever watched the OG series? And, who had to stop reading their script because they were too scared? Part 1 of “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” premieres Oct. 11 at 7 PM ET/PT on Nickelodeon.

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From ComicBook:

Are You Afraid of the Dark? Showrunner Details Finding the Balance of Incorporating Horror Easter Eggs

The original Are You Afraid of the Dark? delivered audiences weekly campfire tales that seemed to exist outside of any real-world culture, as the series was little more than an opportunity to deliver Nickelodeon viewers an anthology series of spooky stories. The new take on the concept was reimagined by showrunner BenDavid Grabinski to deliver not only an all-new narrative concept, but also to honor the spirit of those isolated tales of terror. One major difference with this new series is its reflection of the world of horror, as characters regularly reference iconic horror films and are even named after famous filmmakers. Grabinski recently shared with ComicBook.com the balance of infusing those nods into the show's DNA without them becoming distracting.

"A thing that I really wanted to do with the show is find a balance of showing a cross-section of the genre, in a way," Grabinski pointed out. "I want it to feel like this show is a love letter to the original show, but also a love letter to horror, and it's very tricky with these things where they can seem very forced. The easy way out of it, for me, is that they rarely ever say anyone's last name. We say people's first names. Graham is Graham Raimi [in honor of Evil Dead director Sam Raimi], but we never say the 'Raimi' part out loud. It's just written on things. I don't know if this was really a way out, but I tried to find my own internal gut feeling of what was forced or distracted and what's not."

The original series debuted in the '90s and inspired a love of horror in an entire generation of audiences, serving as a gateway to more mature horror efforts. Nearly three decades later, those original fans can recognize those Easter eggs and, while younger viewers won't understand that the town of Argento, Oregon is a reference to Suspiria director Dario Argento or that Rachel Carpenter is named after Big Trouble in Little China director John Carpenter, Grabinski's references can serve as an encyclopedia of which filmmakers to invest in as they get older.

"I think I found a balance that, if you don't know any of them, you won't know the references, but if you're an adult who watches it, you'll feel like there's a love for the genre here," the showrunner noted. "But also for kids, if this does become a gateway show to them where they start to love the genre and this is something they go back to over the years, they'll start to pick up that there are all these things in it. If they're looking for things to get into, they can begin to start seeing those things. It's a weird balance because, to me, I wanted it to feel like the show was made by The Midnight Society. That's a stupid and pretentious thing, but also simplistic."

Grabinski went on to recall an anecdote about how the Easter eggs were so subtle, even members of the cast didn't know what they were referencing.

"There's this guy Cardi [Wong] who played Officer Hideo Yamato, which, Hideo is for [Hideo Kojima, Metal Gear Solid] who made the video game Death Stranding, who's a god to me and that is definitely one of the weirder things," Grabinski recalled. "Cardi texted me 30 minutes ago, and I love Cardi, I thought he did a great job. I joke about wanting to do a spinoff of the Yamato Detective Agency where Akiko and Hideo are solving crimes, but Cardi was great. He was the first actor that we saw for the part and as soon as he walked out of the room, I was like, 'Okay that's Hideo. We don't have to see anyone else. That solves our problem.'"

The showrunner joked, "He texted me and said, 'BenDavid, what is Argento a reference to?' and we've known him a long time now. We're obviously friends, because he texted me. I'm just offended because, he could have Googled it. Kids can watch a show and they might Google 'Argento' and then accidentally watch a movie that's really too much for them. Honestly though, Cardi, if you read this, I love you, but you could have just Googled it."

New episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark? air Friday nights on Nickelodeon.

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From The Beat:

INTERVIEW: Are You Afraid of the Dark? showrunner always wanted to be part of the Midnight Society

BenDavid Gabrinski on what it means to have his own campfire for horror stories

The first episode of the Are You Afraid of the Dark? was a love letter to horror. It poured its heart out onscreen, diving headfirst into Easter eggs and horror references (the town the series takes place in is called Argento!) to shape a new generation of Midnight Society members that feels genuine and well-developed enough to carry the torch of those from the original series.

The first episode succeeded in telling a story that was scary and unsettling, a true non-negotiable if the revival were ever to have a chance at becoming something special. Considering its horror is aimed at a younger audience, the show managed to have something for all ages. It introduced an evil carnival setting to serve as backdrop for the story’s more sinister elements and an equally evil host acting as the series’ ‘monster,’ the thing that haunts the kids. It was as scary as it was wondrous and it set up a clever twist on the source material that saw the Midnight Society itself become the target of evil.

This surprised many. By going down a very unexpected route, distancing itself from the anthology format of the original show, the 3-episode limited series immediately became a genuine spiritual successor that celebrated Afraid of the Dark’s love of horror storytelling, and it did so by digging deeper into the kids that gathered around the campfire. The show ends up being about how horror can fan the flames of creativity and imagination, and how it helps us give our inner Midnight Society voice an outlet for expression. It’s about what it means to be able to scare someone with an original tale of the macabre, filled with unknown things and strange happenings.

Fans of the original might remember some stories ending on a cautionary note, with others commenting on the importance of accepting and overcoming fear. I remember them being generally about surviving childhood. Are You Afraid of the Dark?’s showrunner BenDavid Grabinski has more than a few thoughts on this and on what the series meant and means in the present world.

The Beat had the chance to conduct a phone interview with Grabinski to discuss the revival and what horror means for today’s younger viewers. It follows here:

Ricardo Serrano: Anthologies are having their moment, from Black Mirror to Jordan Peele’s Twilight Zone and more recently Creepshow. With this in mind, what made you go for a 3-episode limited series instead of a full anthology series in the original’s style?

BenDavid Grabinski: I think it was important to take advantage of the upcoming Halloween season, to get something out there that audiences would love to see during this wonderful time of the year. Nickelodeon wanted a 3-episode series and so I suggested looking at the Midnight Society and having them be the story. This helped us dig into the characters’ emotions and to develop emotional arcs. I think that’s difficult to get when doing anthologies given the format.

I grew up with the show and always wanted someone to invite me into the Midnight Society. I wanted to know what it was like to be a part of it, be friends outside the campfire, interact with them.

Growing up to be a horror fan and having Afraid of the Dark play such a role in that helped me come up with a story that honored the original series but that could also do for new viewers what the original did for me. This new take is a love letter to the show and horror as a whole because of that. I really want people to fall in love with the Midnight Society. My hope was that my love of the original show would come through, so longtime fans knew the show came from good intentions, even if it wasn’t in anthology form.

Serrano: I appreciate the fact it’s three episodes. Sometimes too much of a good thing can dilute the original vision and end up not fulfilling all of its promises.

Grabinski: I think less episodes means more focus on characters. You have to make every moment count and mean something. I also think leaving people hungry for more is better than having them feel like they have to power through several extra episodes a season to be done with a show. I know this is more personal preference, but there’s something to having a story give you enough and leave wanting more of it.

Serrano: You mentioned wanting to appeal to people who saw the original series while getting new eyes on it. There are a lot of references throughout the first episode alone, from character last names belonging to famous horror directors to the actual name of the town. Was that something exclusively for older fans or did you think it could also serve to stoke curiosity with new audiences to go and look for any significance behind those names and places?

Grabinski: It’s actually multiple reasons. I wanted it to feel like a love letter to the horror genre. I mean, I would think being invested in a show about horror stories would bring together a great big group of horror nerds. I think our show is a gateway to horror if you’re just coming into it and are starting here, but I also wanted people who had years of horror movies in them to feel at home. I started watching more kid horror stuff growing up and then transitioned to more adult horror and, look, they’re not mutually exclusive.

We wanted a love of horror to serve as subtext. It felt right going that route, but we knew it had to be something that if you didn’t know the show had references you could still enjoy it. I knew I was correct in adding these references when I would talk to people on set who liked the story and what we were doing but didn’t know certain things were actually references. The fact name of the town is Argento doesn’t mean you have to know him or that it means anything. The name of the school, Herbert West Middle School, sounds like the name of a real middle school! All of this gives the show a kind of horror texture that has something for everyone.

Serrano: In terms of horror for younger audiences—on what the limits are for YA audiences or if there should be any limits in the first place—there’s a dividing line for some as to what’s appropriate and what isn’t it. I’m thinking of the Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark movie and how it managed to keep things scary and even dangerous considering it’s all mostly happening to kids. What’s your take on what YA horror should be?

Grabinski: It’s something I had to think about but not from the perspective of what’s safe and what isn’t. It was more about keeping in mind the audience’s intended age and whether the message could resonate with them. I remember thinking of the time I watched Batman Returns as a kid. There was a lot of talk on what shouldn’t be put into a happy meal and if the movie was even appropriate for kids, and I think I was self-aware of that. For Afraid of the Dark, I think nihilism just isn’t always the best route. Don’t tell a kid, at a formative age, that the world is a terrible place and that the bad guys are going to win.

In our case we wanted the idea that good could triumph over evil and that the kids will make some deep connections with each other. Like in Poltergeist, where the family goes through some terrible things together but at the end you know they’re going to be okay. That was a big part why kids could watch the movie.

When you watch kids horror you get the part where the kids put the pieces of the puzzle together and stop evil from winning, mostly in some supernatural scenario. With adults you get the first two parts but in the last fifteen minutes of the film you see the bad elements aren’t entirely destroyed and, surprise, we’re all going to die. That’s the idea behind Final Destination, which made it hilarious to be honest, and with many of the other slasher movies out there. You can’t take that approach with ten-year-olds because you don’t want them to get jaded and think everything is screwed up.

Look, the easiest way to think about it is, if it happened in a Harry Potter movie then it’s okay. Really, those movies were a good barometer for how dark we could get for a long time. It helped give me peace of mind while working on Afraid of the Dark?

Serrano: Was there anything you really didn’t want this Afraid of the Dark revival to be? Something you wanted to completely avoid?

Grabinski: This might sound contradictory, but I didn’t want to have the show be about horror stories told around a campfire just coming to life. I wanted there to be some elements of that, and once you see all three episodes I think it’ll be clear that that wasn’t the case. Having said that, I wanted the Midnight Society to deal with horror outside the campfire. I wanted them to navigate a world where horrible things could happen, but also that they could face it.

I didn’t want it be, like, don’t tell a werewolf story because then there’ll be a werewolf in the hallways at school the next day. I think that would’ve ruined the Society’s dynamic and it was important to me not to break the world of Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Serrano: Thank you for taking the time to talk horror!

Grabinski: Thank you!

Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark? S1E2 debuts Friday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. You can watch S1E1 for free on YouTube.

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From Variety:

Are You Afraid of the Dark’ Revival Team on Living Up to the Series’ Legacy

The 2019 revival of “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” centers around the Carnival of Doom, a place that star Jeremy Ray Taylor (“It Chapter Two”) describes as “beautiful on the outside, but…in the middle of it, there are definitely dark secrets.

Variety caught up with the young star during a carnival-themed celebration at Row DTLA and while the outside of the event was serene, the inside was dark and eerie. The entrance was lit just enough for the revival’s cast — Miya Cech, Lyliana Wray, Sam Ashe Arnold and Taylor — to pose for photos in front of the “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” poster before heading deeper into the party where demented clowns roamed, inviting guests to follow them through the dark. Once inside, guests enjoyed popcorn and chili dogs and there was even a candy buffet holding all the ingredients to make personalized, chocolate-covered apples.

But the focus of the celebration wasn’t just on creating a creepy carnival vibe, but also paying homage to the original series that inspired the new Nickelodeon show.

“This was my favorite show as a kid,” executive producer Matthew Kaplan said. “When we were kids, [these] were shows that didn’t speak down to us–Nick at Night and TGIF–‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’ in general was one of those shows that felt authentic at that time. I think now, luckily, people are starting to make content like that again.”

The first rendition of “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” had a successful run, airing seven seasons between 1990 and 2000, and featuring future film and television stars like Elisha Cuthbert and Ryan Gosling in guest starring roles. Now Kaplan’s Ace Entertainment’s teamed with the limited series’ writer and producer BenDavid Grabinski and director Dean Isrealite to relaunch the YA horror franchise. Though the new series was originally conceived as a film, Kaplan explained that the team ultimately decided to release a mini-series first because “it felt more authentic to the core audience.” The film is still in development.

“As you saw Gosling come off ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’ — we’re trying to do the same thing,” Kaplan explained. “Create shows so that kids have the chance to really show their abilities and become stars of today.”

Like the original scary series, the 2019 revival still centers around the “Midnight Society,” but the creative team focused on making the story current, with additions like having 12-year-old Akiko (Cech) be an iPhone filmmaker. Though the young actors aren’t old enough to have seen the original when it aired, they are completely aware of the legacy they’ve stepped into after watching clips of it on set.

“It was very cool to watch it… because it looks retro-y, but it’s also very scary. But I feel like this one is a little bit more scary, just a tiny bit,” Cech recalled, admitting that there is pressure to live up to the original show.

“It’s definitely a little intimidating because there is such a huge fan base and such a huge following and they’re loyal fans out there as well,” Wray added. “I think there’s some people already that are very quick to judge and I think it’s just going into it with an open mind because we’ve all worked so hard.”

“Are You Afraid of the Dark?” debuts Oct. 11 on Nickelodeon.

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From ComicBook:

Are You Afraid of the Dark? Showrunner BenDavid Grabinski Reveals the Risks and Responsibilities of Reviving the Series

In the late '80s and early '90s, adult horror fans were given countless terrifying tales on the small screen, thanks to George Romero's Tales from the Darkside and HBO's Tales from the Crypt, while burgeoning horror fans had to settle for family-friendly adventures. That all changed in 1990 when Nickelodeon debuted Are You Afraid of the Dark?, an anthology series whose offerings were closer to a PG-13 rating when it came to depicting ghosts, goblins, and ghouls. The series was a major hit with fans who were given just enough of a taste of the morbid and the macabre to pursue the genre further, creating life-long fans of terrifying tales.

One of those young horror fans was BenDavid Grabinski, who had the difficult task of reviving the show as a miniseries for Nickelodeon. While bringing a show back to life that he has a deep emotional connection to comes with its inherent joys, it also comes with tremendous pressure, as the stakes to not let down fellow fans were immensely high and the abbreviated three-episode structure wouldn't allow him to merely tell campfire tales as each episode of the original series did.

ComicBook.com recently caught up with Grabinski to discuss his connection to the original show, his approach to the remake, and what the future could hold for Are You Afraid of the Dark? And, of course, we discussed what it would be like if Werner Herzog joined The Midnight Society.

THE REAL DARKNESS

ComicBook.com: I think the biggest question we all have about you personally is are you afraid of the dark?

BenDavid Grabinski: It's funny, the dark does not scare me at all anymore, which is a little bit of a bummer. In some ways, I miss having stuff like that scare me. I think as you get older, you get scared by complicated existential things that replace that. Although, every once in a while, you still might be afraid that someone has broken into your place and that feels like the same thing as the dark.

As we talk about this Nickelodeon show, it's definitely worth addressing that, as opposed to literal darkness, nothing is as terrifying as the figurative darkness of our future and the bleakness of reality.

I think it'd be a really good idea to talk about a show for nine-year-olds by talking about a nihilistic existential future. I think that's really a good way to handle this.

Maybe we should back things up a bit before getting all Werner Herzog on our readers.

I'm really bummed that we couldn't get him in these episodes but I really hope that he'll make more appearances in future Are You Afraid of the Dark? stuff.

Now that's all I'm hoping for, is to get Herzog in The Midnight Society to hear him say, "Submitted for the approval of The Midnight Society, I call this story, 'Life.'"

For a transcribed interview, this joke won't work, but imagine that I did the Sardo catchphrase with a Herzog voice. He can also be Dr. Vink. He can be Vink and Sardo. I think that would be the best way to approach it.

I think he should actually play all the original characters from the original show because that's what kids are looking for. [Star Wars:] The Mandalorian really made all the right decisions by putting Werner Herzog in their space kids' show because it's what's going to make me watch it. I feel like I could just rip off [Mandalorian producer Jon Favreau's] approach, which is to put Herzog in this show.

When kids are tuning in to Nickelodeon on a Friday night, what they're looking for is more Herzog.

We did a focus group with nine- and 10-year-olds and they kept bringing up Zak Penn's Incident at Loch Ness. I wasn't really sure that kids were watching Incident at Loch Ness, but it's funny, I think it's a hip movie for kids to watch because they always want to watch things their parents say that they shouldn't and Incident at Loch Ness is a thing that kids love. I'm surprised. They bring up 13 Reasons Why and then Incident at Loch Ness. Not many people brought up Zak Penn's gambling movie that he directed that Herzog was in, which was a bummer because I kept thinking why aren't kids watching The Grand? Brett Ratner's in that one.

Weren't there talks early on that Rafael Casal, he was in negotiations for the show, and you had to play hardball with him and say if he doesn't take this role then Werner Herzog was going to be Mr. Tophat?

It's funny, Herzog showed up for a costume fitting and he said, "I haven't been this creatively reinvigorated since Julien Donkey-Boy." He kept comparing my scripts to Julien Donkey-Boy.

Well, that's all I have, thanks for taking the time to talk to me.

Let's go to the real questions.

FIRST EXPOSURE

What were your first experiences with Are You Afraid of the Dark? What was it about the series that made you so passionate about it, all these years later?

There's a few things about the show that made it very much fused into the origin story of my nerdiness, because I wasn't allowed to watch any movies made for adults as a kid. That's a vague concept because yes, I was allowed to watch Hitchcock movies or stuff that was on PBS or old black-and-white movies that were made for adults, but violent stuff or R-rated stuff or things that were not meant for 10-year-olds were completely forbidden. I didn't have many friends, really. I had two or three friends, but they weren't allowed to watch stuff either, so the only access I had to horror was stuff made for kids. We didn't have cable. When I would go to my grandma's house, I'd watch Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel. I'd mainly watch stuff that was made for kids, but as I got older ... one time I went there and Are You Afraid of the Dark? was on.

The thing you remember, always, was the opening credits and that is so amazing. It's like my introduction to a lifelong horror obsession was Are You Afraid of the Dark? and something, I don't know if I'm technically allowed to mention, called "Goosebumps." I don't know if we're actually rivals. You could act like it's Coke vs. Pepsi. I loved all of it as a kid. If someone came along and said, "Hey do you want to do a Goosebumps show?" I probably would have jumped at that. I personally prefer Are You Afraid of the Dark?, so whatever happened really worked out for me.

If anyone has watched the first episode by now, they could probably guess the following bit, which is I have this memory of watching the show and wishing I got invited to join that group. The idea of having a group of kids who liked horror that much and all seemed to like each other. I'm filling in a lot of subtext and things in there but that desire to join the group, I think, was my emotional way into telling the story because that's how I made it personal, was tapping into that feeling of loneliness and thinking, if you found other people who understood your weird interests that things would change.

When I was a kid, there was no one into comic books and no one into nerdy stuff. There was always one kid in the school who was really into comic books or one kid in the school who watched wrestling. There was one kid who had some nerdy thing. There was always one Star Trek nerd, at least of people who would admit it. It was a different time. Now all this stuff is more mainstream, but I think the appeal of the original show, to me, was there's a group of kids who like this shit, even though they don't talk about pop culture, but they must love horror if they're going to go and spend a late night in the woods telling these stories and scaring each other. That's my assumption.

REIMAGINING THE MATERIAL

I think you effectively captured the core elements that made that original series special, blended them all together, and pulled out a compelling new take on the concept with your narrative about how The Midnight Society would come together, at least in that first episode. Of course, you might have botched everything after that first one.

Yeah, it's funny, I'm like, "What if the first one was good and then what if the rest weren't?" It was amazing that Nickelodeon responded to that because it's a little bit of an intellectual concept, starting good and then completely ruining a thing.

I think each episode, personally, is better than the one before it by design. There's an escalation of stakes in that they get bigger as it goes along, because I didn't want to feel like, in our first episode we went to a 10 out of 10 of being scary and putting these kids in jeopardy, because then there's really nowhere to go. There's an intentional sense of escalation. It's really tricky because if you're doing something that's not anthology, you have to have things structurally take a different approach, because everyone will say, "Why did you make a limited series?" and my job is to say something interesting about that, but I think it was purely ... it feels like I met with them two weeks ago and they wanted to make something new with Are You Afraid of the Dark? and they want it to air in October.

We finished the first two episodes about ten minutes before they premiered at Beyond Fest. There wasn't really time to even make three, let alone anything, so the idea is, "Okay we're going to make a limited series of three episodes." I personally think of it like the miniseries that Battlestar Galactica had before they had their actual seasons, but I also designed it to be completely standalone, with, I think, an emotionally and narratively satisfying ending. If you watch this and you're like, "I want more of that," great, but I also feel like it is a self-contained thing. That was a long-winded way to say, if you're making three episodes, it doesn't make sense to me to have three separate stories if you're also going to try to create character arcs for The Midnight Society and do all these things. Half the show is an emotional connection to it and then half is a creative, intellectual challenge to create a three-episode story that also feels like it is Are You Afraid of the Dark?, but it's new and different.

CONTINUED ADVENTURES?

It might be early, but has the response from audiences and the network been positive enough that it's possible we could be getting more episodes? Either as a regular series or as another miniseries?

The only thing I can say is I have a million ideas about where it would go from here. I think there's a world where you can make a show that has kids telling stories around a campfire and also following them in the real world and balance the two. That's an ideal situation for me, because I think you can have your cake and eat it too. If you can have these isolated stories that are vastly different in terms of subject matter, whether you're doing something about vampires or ghosts or time-travel or aliens or whatever, and then also have the plot of kids and what they're dealing with.

I like the idea of there being real horror and fictional horror because there's a real opportunity to have something that never feels stale, but with these three episodes, in a way, it would have been easier to just follow the original series exactly and have everybody be happy and have it start with kids around a campfire. They say a name of a story and then we have a story. What I was hoping with this new version is that my love of the original show would be clear.

I didn't know if people would get that until they literally saw that. I've been a little worried for a couple of months that people would be mad at me and not understand how much I love the original show and how much it meant to me. I'm happy that people seem to get it. I haven't had anyone get mad at me yet, which has been really wonderful, because I'm still mad about choices they made in the [Fast & Furious] movies, so I understand the other side of things where someone is going to get mad at me about choices I made with something that means a lot to them, but so far, so good.

Hashtag "JusticeForTheMidnightSociety."

Look, I'm just saying if someone brutally murdered Graham in one episode and then there's a later season where he was invited to join The Midnight Society, I think people would be upset about it, even if you reverse engineer something like Idris Elba doing a fake news smear on him, [people would ask,] "That guy still killed Graham, so why did you invite him to join the Midnight Society? You're sitting around a fire next to the guy who killed Graham," and you think people would be upset because they love Graham and I love Han [from the Fast & Furious franchise] so it's a little disrespectful to the fan base, but at the same time, I think I have to embrace the idea that the Fast movies aren't really for me anymore. I think they're really for the people who started watching Fast 5 and Fast 6 because the fan base was drastically increased, so when you have someone, like me, who has been there since the beginning and was very invested in this group of characters, I probably have a different emotional connection than those people do.

The third episode hasn't aired yet so it's not too late to film a post-credits scene of Graham getting killed, The Midnight Society gets a phone call, and Werner Herzog is on the other end and reveals he murdered Graham.

I think that Werner joining the group is great, but then we'd have to spend so much money de-aging him to make him look like he's 10 years old. Then, I think if you de-age Werner Herzog to look 10 years old, you're losing the star power of having Werner Herzog on your show.

Right, you can't put him on the poster.

How are they even going to know it's him? It's going to seem like we created this motion-capture guy who's doing a Herzog impression. How are they going to know that this guy who's appearing as a 10-year-old is actually Herzog on set wearing a suit covered in white dots?

EASTER EGGS

We've talked before about incorporating horror movie Easter eggs into the series, could you talk more about your approach to fitting them into episodes and the reaction from the network about referencing R-rated filmmakers?

This is more of an insecurity of my own personal thing, but making a show where you're on set with like 100 crew members, other producers, and Dean [Israelite], who directed the hell out of the show, when you're doing references that is just you doing them and not really telling anybody, it's a weird situation. I was standing on the high school set — our show is in a middle school, but, movie magic — and I had this weird moment and I turned, surrounded by crew members, and I said, "Does anyone know why I called it 'Herbert West Middle School'?" and no one did. I was like, "Man, I hope someone likes these choices later because I seem like a maniac right now." A giant machine is making something and I'm emailing the art department or legal saying, "Hey, can you clear a t-shirt with a The Gate poster on it?" or having Beyond Fest send us one of the "Cronenberg for President" shirts and having a bunch of lawyers in a room making sure we can clear things and get the rights to stuff and no one knows why I'm doing it.

It's funny, the one reference that I failed, which ended up pulling in a bit of narcissism, is in those first shots in the first episode, there's a bunch of moving boxes and they all say "Grabinski Moo-vers" and there's a cow driving a truck. The way these things work is when you're naming things, you send a name to clearance, and they make sure that you won't get sued and we were in a rush so I sent over like 15 names and, at the end, I put a back-up name, because we didn't have enough time if they all got rejected and I knew I wouldn't sue, so I did "Grabinski Moo-vers" and I got an email the day they're making the props. They're like, "They're all rejected except Grabinski Moo-vers." No one has called me out on this, but if anyone has subtweeted me or personally watched it and thought I was a maniac for having the company have my last name ... I tried [Wes] Craven. I tried Romero. I even got really niche and, for some reason, they just didn't clear.

The creative process ... we want to act like everything has some intention behind it, but making a TV show is like being on a train that you're building, while you're building the train tracks, and it's headed towards a wall, so some stuff, you just need things, and I lean into being idiosyncratic if we don't have the time to make a choice that is necessarily thematically very important. It's like, "Oh, that would be amusing." I don't know if this is all getting really inside, but maybe someone will be partially amused. I was reading Herzog's book and he's like, "Whenever you have moving boxes, just put your last name on it." I was like, "Okay." All the companies in his shows and all across his movies have his name everywhere.

That's why his documentary Into the Abyss takes place at "Herzog Federal Penitentiary."

The funny thing, I have to say this because no one has asked me and there's a reason they wouldn't ask me, but I just would like to have a public penance for this one, which is that all the products in the show have the logo from the evil corporation from the short I made called "Cost of Living" with Brandon Routh and Bret Harrison and Meredith Elizabeth Winstead in like 2010 that I kind of made as a goof, and when we were naming products, I sent the art department the logo and I'm like, "This needs to be on everything." I got an email saying people don't usually tell us what the logos for the things are going to be so I said, "Sorry," and I assumed they weren't going to do it and I show up on set and it's in a million shots of the show, from cereal boxes to apple juice. Things have the logo from the corporation from a short I made that was watched by 200,000 people and played at a few festivals in 2010.

Tune in to the final episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? Friday night on Nickelodeon.

###

From TheWrap:

Nickelodeon’s ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’ Creators on the Balance Between Scary and Kid-Friendly (Video)

“For me, it was important that the show is OK for the nine-to-12 year range, and that the adults who grew up with the original still enjoy it,” executive producer Matt Kaplan tells TheWrap



A whole new generation of kids are currently being scared by “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” as Nickelodeon’s reboot series airs its third and final terrifying episode on Friday, Oct. 25.

Following in the footsteps of the original ’90s cult series, the 2019 iteration of the horror anthology revolves around a group of young teens dubbed the Midnight Society who tell scary stories around a campfire.

But when new member, Rachel, recounts a story about the Carnival of Doom and Mr. Tophat, the group all wake up the next day to discover that the Carnival of Doom has come to life.

TheWrap recently caught up with series stars Sam Ashe Arnold, Miya Cech, Jeremy Ray Taylor and Lyliana Wray, along with creator/executive producer BenDavid Grabinski and executive producer Matt Kaplan at CREEP in downtown Los Angeles to find out how they found the balance of family-friendly frights.

‘”Are You Afraid of the Dark?’ was my favorite show as a kid. It is what turned me on to horror in general, just the idea of the campfire setting with the kids telling stories felt really authentic and genuine,” Grabinski told TheWrap.

“Watching something scary together is one of the last group experiences we have where you can feel really feel a communal energy,” he said, but “for a while, I don’t think people were making horror content that felt authentic to kids,” Grabinski explained.

Kaplan also grew up devouring horror stories. “My favorite show as a kid was ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’ … it was very scary but safely so at that age. When you were 12, it was the scariest thing that ever existed, but when you’re an adult it’s a little different.” Working on the reboot, “I felt like I got to tap into all my nostalgia for the show but also make it new and modern,” he added.

With children today being bombarded by adult content on TV, streaming services and over the internet, parents naturally worry about what is suitable for young viewers.

“For me, it was important that the show is OK for the nine-to-12 year range, and that the adults who grew up with the original still enjoy it,” Kaplan said. “So I tried to remember what scared me at that age, I also have a feeling that as a kid, a happy ending is required. The older you get, I think you can deal better with darker turns. As a kid, you want something that is scary but that the good guys win and everything is OK as it is a little less traumatizing. Whereas the stuff I enjoy as an adult may have the darkest ending imaginable,” he added.

“I think it would be a great thing for parents to watch with their kids. Most kids will be OK but everyone has a different line and it is always subjective,” Kaplan advised.

Series star and “It” alum Taylor said the reboot achieves “an amazing balance between scary stories and showing the chemistry between all the kids — keeping a good balance of the scary while also making a heartwarming story.”

The new “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” is produced by ACE Entertainment (“To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before,” “The Perfect Date”) with ACE founder Kaplan and Spencer Berman serving as executive producers.

The series is written by Grabinski (“Skiptrace”) and directed by Dean Israelite (“Power Rangers” movie, “Project Almanac”), both of whom will also executive produce. Created by D.J. MacHale and Ned Kandel, Nickelodeon’s original “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” series ran from 1992-1996 and 1999-2000.

Watch the video above to find out what the “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” cast is afraid of in real life, and catch the finale on Friday, Oct. 25 on Nickelodeon at 7 p.m. (ET/PT).

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From Gizmodo:

The Writer Behind the Are You Afraid of the Dark? Reboot on the Fine Art of Scaring Kids

Kids are tough and can handle a lot more than we sometimes give them credit for, but that doesn’t mean you can simply pop on a DVD of The Exorcist and leave the room. According to BenDavid Grabinski, the writer of the new Are You Afraid of the Dark? series, there’s one specific thing you need to tell a good horror story for kids. It’s not a scary clown...although that’s always a plus.

There are plenty of horror stories geared toward children, from Goosebumps to Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and they don’t skimp on the frights. Some episodes, like “The Tale of the Dead Man’s Float” in the original Are You Afraid of the Dark series, still manage to terrify us to this day. But there’s something children’s horror has that more adult forms don’t necessarily need: a good ending. io9 chatted with Grabinski at our studio at New York Comic Con to find out why.

“The difference between kid horror and adult horror is that, like, if you turned off these episodes in the middle it might be too much, but if they get to the ending you know it’s happy and everyone’s fine,” he told io9. “Kind of a spoiler, but it’s a kids show. I’m not gonna, like, kill all the kids!”

Grabinski added, “I don’t want to assume making the show that kids can handle anything because it could be a little irresponsible, probably.” He mentioned writers can sometimes push the envelope a bit more when it comes to scaring today’s kids than previous generations, because modern media and politics has desensitized them. This was something echoed by Are You Afraid of the Dark? star Jeremy Ray Taylor, who told io9 in an interview that his generation isn’t afraid of getting scared because they have a better understanding of how movies get made.

That said, scaring children is a timeless tradition—let’s not forget the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales, which could be absolutely brutal. We may be seeing a renaissance in great child horror, but that doesn’t make it a first-time thing.

You can watch our interview with Grabinski [here], and we’ve provided a full transcript of the video below. The final episode of the Are You Afraid of the Dark? reboot airs October 25 on Nickelodeon, and the network hasn’t announced whether it’ll get another season.



BenDavid Grabinski: You have to just follow your own gut about what you think is appropriate for kids, or what goes too far. And you kind of want to go right up to that edge, because otherwise it’s too safe.

I do think, though, you have an obligation when you’re making horror for kids to try to keep in mind that there’s a different degree of things that kids can tolerate. There’s some kids who have been exposed to a lot more of a violent or scary media, or dealt with more things than some kids who haven’t. So there’s like a tricky balance there because there’s a lot of kids today who, they may watch Get Out or Us, or [are] dealing with the current political climate and a lot of things have made them maybe grow up quicker, or be a little more desensitized to things. But at the same time, I don’t want to assume making the show that kids can handle anything, because it could be a little irresponsible probably.

[Audio from Are You Afraid of the Dark?]: “Do you like scary stories?”

Grabinski: When you’re making horror for adults, everyone can die, or can end with complete nihilism. I think part of the reason of not traumatizing kids too much is if you let them know that everything’s gonna be okay, and the heroes win, and the kids are fine. When you take it the other direction, that’s the thing that’s very scary. So that’s kinda, to me, the difference between kid horror and adult horror is that. Like, if you turned off these episodes in the middle, it might be too much, but if they get to the ending, you know it’s happy and everyone’s fine. Kind of a spoiler, but it’s a kid’s show. I’m not gonna, like, kill all the kids.

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From Gizmodo:

Are You Afraid of the Dark? Star Says Working on It, Sadly, Didn't Make Him Immune to Clowns

Actor Jeremy Ray Taylor has had his share of scary clowns. First with It and It: Chapter 2, and now with the latest Are You Afraid of the Dark? series. The latter may not involve Pennywise and his sewer full of children’s body parts—at least I hope it doesn’t—but Taylor said his fear of clowns is still alive and well. Along with a new appreciation for horror.

“I’m still terrified of clowns,” he told io9. “But after I started filming a lot of horror things, it kinda opened it up for me. So now I’m a giant fan of horror movies.”

During a visit to io9's studio at New York Comic Con (you can watch the video interview above), we chatted with the cast of Are You Afraid of the Dark? about whether Taylor’s experience on It made him immune to clowns while playing Graham on this new show (it didn’t) or whether he gave the other cast members tips on how to handle filming the scary scenes (he didn’t).

“I just don’t like clowns. I don’t like Pennywise, I don’t like any other clown,” Miya Cech, who plays Akiko, said. “I feel like he should have given me pointers on that, but he didn’t.”

“I didn’t do my job,” Taylor added.

We also talked about their love of horror and favorite films in the genre, like Get Out and Us. Cech said she wasn’t the hugest fan of It because it was too scary, but the kids talked about finding a new appreciation for horror thanks to their experience on Are You Afraid? and other projects. It was a bit surprising, as they seemed pretty young to enjoy R-rated horror flicks, but they noted how their generation can handle it—Sam Ashe Arnold (Gavin) added that Are You Afraid? had to push the envelope to “keep up with what kids can handle these days.”

“People know how the movies are made more, nowadays, and they understand that it’s not real, so that stuff doesn’t get to them as much,” Taylor said. “So you really, really have to make it personal and let them know that it can happen to you.”

Are You Afraid of the Dark? debuts on Nickelodeon October 11. The first episode is already available to watch on Youtube.

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From Global News:

‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’ star Miya Cech says reboot is just as scary as the original

The Midnight Society has officially returned.

As part of a limited series three-part special, YTV and Nickelodeon rebooted ‘90s kids’ cult classic Are You Afraid of the Dark? The show, which debuted in October, features a new cast of kids along with a new terrifying tale.

The original series, which aired between 1990 and 2000, focused on a group of school-aged kids telling scary stories around a campfire in the dark. Several Canadians actors were part of the original series, including Global News’ Ross Hull, Elisha Cuthbert and even Ryan Gosling.

This reboot stars Lyliana Wray (who plays Rachel), Canadian actor Sam Ashe Arnold (who plays Gavin), Miya Cech (who plays Akiko), Jeremy Taylor (who plays Graham) and Tamara Smart (who plays Louise).

The new series tells the story of the Carnival of Doom and its ringmaster Mr. Tophat.

Global News spoke with Midnight Society member Miya Cech about the reboot, the scariest scenes and what fans thought of the remake.


Miya Cech. Photo by Michael Courtney/NIckelodeon

Global News: What was it like to work on a reboot, especially one that was very popular for Canadians in the ’90s?
Miya Cech: It was really fun to film. It was fun to be in the Midnight Society… but it was also a lot of pressure because everybody loves the original and it had so much of a following already. The cast felt like that we had to make them love this one just as much.

Did you have a chance to watch the original series? What did you think?
I watched a couple of clips and my mom was really into the show when she was growing up. When I first got the offer [to play Akiko], she’s like, ‘I have to show you the show’… It was actually really scary.
READ MORE: Quiet Baie d’Urfé home turned into set for horror film

The reboot is framed in a different way compared to the original series. In the 2019 version, the series follows one story over three episodes. How do you feel about this new format?
I like telling the story and being part of it as well. I think that was really an important aspect of it… to have more insight into the Midnight Society stories and them as people.

You’ve also done some work with horror in the past. How has filming this been different?
For this one, it was a lot more fun because I got to be with kids my age. After being scared, we’re fine with it because we were all making jokes with each other and keeping the mood up instead of being scared the entire time.

What was the scariest scene?
[There is a scene] where clowns were chasing me. I don’t like clowns and I have the worst fear of them. Our director put them on stilts, which is even worse… and they can run really fast. They were running faster than me and my castmates.
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So if you’re scared of clowns but also need to be in acting mode, how do you balance the two?
When the camera starts rolling an actor can just immediately put themselves in that state. It is like method acting. As an actor you kind of learn and train your body to immediately know when to put yourself in that state of whatever emotion you’re supposed to be feeling, even if you’re not feeling it off-screen.


Akiko (Miya Cech), Louise (Tamara Smart) and Graham (Jeremy Ray Taylor). Photo: Michael Courtney/NIckelodeon

What has the reaction been like from fans? Especially those who grew up with the original?
People love it and I’m really happy they love it as much as the original. We’ve been able to hear stories from the original — how scenes are similar — and there are a couple of Easter eggs I won’t spoil for you.

(This interview has been edited and condensed.)

Are You Afraid of the Dark? is produced by ACE Entertainment with ACE founder Matt Kaplan and Spencer Berman serving as executive producers. The series is written by BenDavid Grabinski and directed by Dean Israelite, both of whom are also executive producers. Chris Foss is also an executive producer.

You can watch all three episodes of the new Are You Afraid of the Dark? through the Nickelodeon Channel and STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Visit the Carnival of Doom in Fortnite!

More Nick: 'Are You Afraid of the Dark?' Reboot Sneak Peek: Watch the New York Comic Con 2019 Footage!

Originally published: Sunday, October 06, 2019.

Additional source: Scoop Square 24.
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