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Are You Afraid of the Dark? S2 Premiere: Beware the Shadows (Review)

Are You Afraid of the Dark? terrified 90’s kids back in the day. Now, Nickelodeon is ready to scare a new generation as its rebooted AYAOTD series kicks off season 2.

After a successful – though short – three episode run for season 1, the Midnight Society is back. (Albeit with a different cast – the series takes the anthology approach, with each season covering a new story arc.)

Check out our review for the first episode, “The Tale of the Haunted Woods,” below.

(Note: this review contains spoilers! Jump down to the spoiler-free bottom line to avoid them.)

Are You Afraid of the Dark? S2E1 Review

The season 2 arc of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, dubbed Curse of the Shadows, opens strong. Since this is an anthology, season 2 essentially functions like a pilot episode, introducing an all new setting and cast of characters. Because there’s so much exposition to cover, pilots can fall flat and feel overly “explain-y.” But AYAOTD doesn’t fall victim to this. It delivers the information we need and adds just enough background to help us understand the new members of the Midnight Society.

I’m also impressed with how well Nickelodeon captured the right tone for this series. Not just the scares (more on that in a minute), but how it’s targeted towards a sort of “in-between” audience. It’s not for little kids, but it’s also not a sexy CW teen drama. It can be hard to hit that older kid-younger teen mark, but AYAOTD nails it, in my opinion. And even better, does it in a way that feels like the series can have a broader appeal. I’m not the intended audience for the show, but it also wasn’t so childish that I couldn’t enjoy it as an adult.

Bryce Gheisar as Luke, Beatrice Kitsos as Hanna, Dominic Miguel Mariche as Seth, Malia Baker as Gabby, Arjun Athalye as Jai, and Ryan Bell as Sardo in Are You Afraid Of The Dark?

Ok, now for what you really want to know… is Are You Afraid of the Dark scary?

Yeah, it is! The production design for the series really sets the right tone. The Shadow Man’s design is good and scary, and the episode uses the “shadow” bit to its advantage, revealing him only during certain moments. We get a couple solid jump scares, a monster under the bed moment, and more classic frights sprinkled throughout the episode.

Plus, the series is really expanding on the premise of telling scary stories by making the supernatural threats real and targeting the Midnight Society. It makes the horror more immersive and ominously pressing. There’s a ticking clock here, counting down to greater horrors unknown. Personally, I can’t wait to watch them unfold.

AYAOTD: The Bottom Line

Season 2 of Are You Afraid of the Dark has an excellent premiere episode. The exposition is well-balanced, which is difficult to manage in what’s essentially a pilot episode. The acting is solid and the relationships between the Midnight Society members feel real and established. The effects are good, the thrills are timed right. And above all? It’s scary! If AYAOTD interests you at all, don’t hesitate. This one is worth watching.

Rating: 9/10

Are You Afraid of the Dark airs new episodes Fridays on Nickelodeon.

By Jessica Lancaster

They say write what you know, and I definitely know how to be a nerd.

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