'Are You Afraid of the Dark?' (2019) - TV Review

"Are You Afraid of the Dark?" has already been a TV series twice. In each case, it was about a group of kids gathering at a campfire to tell horror stories. I haven't seen either of the previous series: they were relatively long-running, with multiple 22-25 minute episodes. This incarnation is a miniseries, three episodes of 43 minutes each.

Our heroine is Rachel Carpenter (Lyliana Wray). She's starting at a new high school, where her love of horror movies gets her invited to "The Midnight Society" - where kids sit around a bonfire and tell stories. She bases her story on her own nightmares about "Mr. Tophat" and "The Carnival of Doom," who abduct children. The day after she tells her story, a carnival rolls into town - and it's called ... "The Carnival of Doom." And one of the children from the school goes missing. Rachel has to try to convince her new friends that she didn't know the carnival existed, and try to figure out what's happening.

This is aimed at kids, and as such, to an adult it seems at most sort of gently creepy. Certainly not "horrifying." The kids involved are all reasonably intelligent, and for the most part make reasonable decisions - thus avoiding a lot of the classic horror movie tropes. There are some jokes, but not many of them actually made me laugh. It was nice to see a good excuse for the adults being ineffectual in a kids show: usually they're ineffectual just because, like the adults in Charlie Brown who appear as large objects and make inarticulate noises. In this case, they couldn't help the kids because they couldn't remember because of Mr. Tophat.

Ultimately inoffensive, mildly cute, and forgettable.