The cast and creative folks behind Nickelodeon's Are You Afraid of the Dark reboot are ready to submit some new stories for the approval of the Midnight Society. The reboot's stars, Lyliana Wray, Sam Ashe Arnold, Miya Cech, Jeremy Ray Taylor, and Rafael Casal, plus writer-executive producer BenDavid Grabinski and executive producer Matt Kaplan assembled at New York Comic Con on Friday to talk about what fans can expect from the updated take on the beloved kid-centered thriller.
The group first presented a clip from the forthcoming miniseries, which featured the newly-minted Midnight Society members being tormented at the "Carnival of Doom" — a fictional creation of one character's nightmares come to life — as the minions of Mr. Tophat come out to taunt each of them. For Wray and Arnold's Rachel and Gavin, it's a pair of water monsters who interrupt their already creepy carnival ride; for Taylor's Graham, it's a ferris wheel coming apart while he's at the tippy top; and for Cech's Akiko, it's a gaggle of probable killer clowns of all stripes hot on her trail. The kicker comes when Keiko thinks she's found a tent of respite ... until a camouflaged contortionist pops out to scare her, too.
The "Carnival of Doom" concept will be central to the entire miniseries, but there will still be some major influences drawn from the original Are You Afraid of the Dark show — especially when it comes to the opening credits. Grabinski promised they are "a loving homage to the original ones." Among the elements that will make it into the new version? The creaking swing set, the murky boat, the door with the peephole, and the hands. "Everyone's favorite memories are of the credits, so we tried not to screw that up," he said.
Honoring the original while giving it a modern bent is a "tricky balance," Grabinski admitted. "We're trying to make a show for 10 year olds who've never heard of [the original] and people like me who are super obsessed with it, which is a lot of fun. The thing I loved about it as a kid is someone was making high-octane horror for children, and there's not a lot of that right now."
Fans of the '90s Nick series will have a lot of fun hunting for Easter eggs in the new take too. "The whole show is filled with stuff from the original show that if you're an obsessive fan like me, it has a 'Where's Waldo' element," Grabinski said. "It's definitely designed for the super nerd, but also if you don't know anything, you won't miss a thing." One familiar face to be on the lookout for is Zeebo the Clown.
But the ringmaster of terror in the new series is Casal's Mr. Tophat, who is supposed to be an "evil Willy Wonka," per Grabinski, and has a bit of a Jack Skellington vibe for Casal.
"I'm not in the clip but they all work for me," Casal said, implying that when it comes to the scares of this new series, we haven't see anything yet.
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.