In the continuing weaponization of our collective childhoods, Paramount Pictures has announced a brand new big screen adaptation of Are You Afraid of the Dark? – the kid’s horror show, not to be confused with the infinitely more terrifying video game series Alone in the Dark.
Are You Afraid of the Dark? was one of those cutesy, not particularly scary horror shows that thrived during the Nineties. Younger kids would be thoroughly creeped out by the whole ordeal, while older kids would scoff at the hokey stories, and congratulate themselves on not being even remotely scared of the show (while secretly sleeping with the light on that night, just in case).
We’ve already had a movie reboot of one of these kinds of franchises, with Goosebumps receiving a generally positive reception thanks to the film steering heavily into the not-so-scary, utterly silly premise of many of the novels that inspired the movie.
Essentially, this is a Jack Black comedy vehicle with a heavy chunk of nostalgia thrown in for good measure – the only downside (apart from the lack of actual scary stuff) is that younger audiences who haven’t memorized the plots of thirty year-old novels will struggle to keep up.
So will Are You Afraid of the Dark? be any better?
It’ll certainly be scarier, that’s for certain. The new movie exists in a post-Stranger Things, post-IT cinematic landscape. Horror stories, especially ones featuring quirky preteens, are in high demand right now.
The announcement of this remake is no accident. Paramount is keenly aware of how many modern horror movie boxes Are You Afraid of the Dark? ticks, and they’re going to milk that for all it’s worth.
Already, we see some evidence of how that will play out. The new film will be written and produced by Gary Dauberman, who penned the script for this year’s IT. To all intents and purposes, Paramount has spotted a bandwagon, and is jumping on it with gusto.
That said, just because an idea is popular right now, it doesn’t mean that every movie that uses the same broad formula is going to prove successful. For every Hunger Games franchise there is a Divergent copycat, and if Are You Afraid of the Dark? simply apes Dauberman’s previous success, there won’t be enough new stuff in the formula to make it feel like anything more than a pretender.
Certainly, this movie could turn out to be fantastic, but for all the flaws present in Goosebumps, that movie at least manages to bring something new and interesting to the table while simultaneously staying true to the kooky source material and all its inherent quirks.
So will Are You Afraid of the Dark? be a better film than Goosebumps? That remains to be seen – but it has an uphill struggle ahead if the new movie hopes to be anything more than a shadow of other, more popular works.