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DVD Review: Are You Afraid of the Dark? Curse of the Shadows

August 10, 2021

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

In 2019, Nickelodeon rebooted the fan favourite 1990s kids show Are You Afraid of the Dark? for a limited event series. The result was a surprisingly solid three-part miniseries that was successful enough to warrant renewal for a second instalment.

The second season, subtitled Are You Afraid of the Dark? Curse of the Shadows, which aired earlier this year and is now being released on DVD, follows the adventures of a new Midnight Society. While it’s not as strong as the first season, this is still a pretty good horror series for younger audiences looking for something a bit spooky.

When group leader Connor (Parker Queenan) disappears after venturing into the Haunted Woods alone at night, it’s up to his best friend Luke (Bryce Gheisar) and the rest of the Midnight Society to track him down before he is lost forever. The new group of kids includes the chatty Jai (Arjun Athalye), the brainiac Gabby (Malia Baker), the budding environmental activist Hanna (Beatrice Kitsos), and her magic-obsessed little brother Seth (Dominic Mariche).

With the grown up help of an eccentric magic shop owner named Sardo (Ryan Beil), Luke and the Midnight Society find themselves dabbling in the dark arts of seances and ancient spells as they try to break a curse that is plaguing their small seaside town. They end up having to face off against a new villain named the Shadowman (Kyle Strauts), a shadowy, demonic figure who only comes out after sunset and is allergic to the light.

I do respect the choice of series developer BenDavid Grabinski to tell a different story and not try to merely extend the first season, which functioned quite nicely on its own as a standalone miniseries. But Curse of the Shadows is not nearly as successful as the first anthology. Some of the writing is a bit too on the nose, and there is some cringey dialogue. The characters in general are not as well defined as they were in the first season, with some of the kids here coming across as pretty one-note and feeling more stereotyped.

I’m also not sure if it needed to be stretched out to six episodes, twice as many as were in the first season. It adds up to about four-and-a-half-hours in total, which feels slightly long to binge-watch all in one sitting. With that said, Are You Afraid of the Dark? Curse of the Shadows is still fairly entertaining to watch and features some pretty good set-pieces throughout, including the main showdown at an old lighthouse.

It has a reasonably engaging supernatural story that does a decent job of establishing its own lore, building engagement through its central mystery and heavily playing into ’90s nostalgia as a feature of its narrative. Again, I enjoyed the first season a little more, but Curse of the Shadows still adds up to a pretty enjoyable series for budding genre enthusiasts.

Bonus Features (DVD):

The DVD includes no bonus features, not even a digital copy. The six episodes on the disc are as follows.

The Tale of the Haunted Woods

The Tale of the Night Frights

The Tale of the Phantom Light

The Tale of the Danse Macabre

The Tale of the Midnight Magic

The Tale of the Darkhouse

Are You Afraid of the Dark? Curse of the Shadows is a Paramount Home Entertainment release. It’s 261 minutes and rated PG.

Street Date: August 10th, 2021

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