Sunday, October 13, 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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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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