Paramount's upcoming film version of the classic Nickelodeon series Are You Afraid of the Dark? won't adapt any of the TV episodes, says its writer. From the early days of TV all the way through the 90s, the genre anthology was a common feature of the programming landscape. While anthologies still technically exist today, most take the form of each season telling a single long-form story, instead of the old Twilight Zone style of telling a different story with different characters each week.
For kids growing up in the 90s with a taste for horror, two great shows existed to fill the weekly anthology void. On broadcast TV, FOX played host to Goosebumps, which adapted the popular book series by author R.L. Stine. On basic cable, Nickelodeon enchanted young audiences with Are You Afraid of the Dark?, which told original tales of terror. The format was simple, a group of friends called The Midnight Society gathered around a campfire each episode to tell a new story, with one member speaking while the others listened. Once the story began, viewers would see it in full, with a Midnight Society outro bringing things to a close.
Which of those series was better is up for debate, but either way, Are You Afraid of the Dark? will soon follow Goosebumps into the realm of feature films. The project was announced last fall, with Paramount hiring Gary Dauberman to write the script. Dauberman has become a go-to Hollywood horror writer, penning last year's wildly successful IT remake, and several entries in The Conjuring universe, including newly released spinoff The Nun. Unfortunately, fans looking to see their favorite Are You Afraid of the Dark? villains make the jump to the big screen will be disappointed. During a recent interview with Slash Film, Dauberman revealed that the movie won't adapt any TV episodes, and will instead tell a completely original story.
While Dauberman does confirm that The Midnight Society framing device and the campfire setting will remain intact, the fact that the Are You Afraid of the Dark? movie won't adapt any of of its most celebrated episodes is sure to be a let down to many who grew up loving the series. While targeted at kids, the Nickelodeon show featured lots of memorably creepy villains, including Zeebo the Clown, The Ghastly Grinner, the horrifying vampire found in "The Tale of the Night Shift," and the unsettling human-sized doll morphed into by the IT-esque shape-shifting antagonist of "The Tale of the Dark Music."
On the plus side, Dauberman stresses in the same interview that he tried not to "age [the story] down too much," and tried to honor the legacy of the original series by not going light on the scares. As Dauberman points out, Are You Afraid of the Dark? often told tales that didn't end with the characters living happily ever after. Sometimes the monsters won, and sometimes the protagonist ended up suffering a truly cruel fate. A good example of the latter is "The Tale of the Pinball Wizard," which ends with the suggestion that the lead is doomed to re-play the game forever, or "The Tale of the Super Specs," which ends with the main characters trapped for eternity in a parallel dimension. Hopefully, Dauberman's story measures up to those efforts, and brings enough scares to delight all ages.
Source: Slash Film
- Are You Afraid of the Dark? (2019) release date: Oct 11, 2019