BenDavid Grabinski Realizes the Value of Making Horror for Kids with Nickelodeon’s Reimagining of “Are you Afraid of the Dark?”


Hollywood News Source was lucky enough to receive an invitation from Nickelodeon to participate in roundtable interviews for the limited series reboot of one of its iconic shows, “Are You Afraid Of The Dark?”, at this years New York Comic Con. We sat down with writer/executive producer, BenDavid Grabinski, in addition to cast members Rafael Casal (Mr. Tophat), Lyliana Wray (Rachel) and Sam Ashe Arnold (Gavin). Fans of the original should not fear, Nickelodeon chose its writer wisely, Grabinski was an obsessive fan of the original himself and assured us that it is “re-imagined but similar” to its predecessor.

What about that creepy clown in the opening credits of the original?

Unfortunately, you will not see the original clown in this 2019 remake but Grabinski and Arnold made it clear that there are plenty of new clowns to haunt your imagination including one in the new credits that “is on par with the old clown but that will be up to the viewers to decide.” Grabinski has come to the understanding of how memorable the original credits were as they are what people he talks to recall the most about the 90’s tv show. Later in the discussion he claims that his favorite scene to film involved 2 clowns running on stilts and warns us to “watch out for Sax Clown” (a clown with a saxaphone) that “steals the show.”

So, are you afraid of the dark?

Casal was first to answer with a definitive “Absolutely!” Wray was quick to ask “Isn’t everyone?” Grabinski was convinced that both were lying because he recalls the cast constantly turning the lights off on set (lots of giggling ensued).

What is the intended demographic?

Grabinski recognizes this as a “very complicated bullseye.” “I really believe in the value of making horror for kids because as a kid my parents wouldn’t let me watch Freddy Krueger movies, I could ONLY watch this show. To make something that is ok for 9 year olds to watch and have it be a gateway to other horror is super important to me but at the same time I want parents who grew up with it to enjoy it…Finding that balance is difficult but I feel like we pulled it off.”

Did the cast do anything to bond before shooting?

Wray took the lead on this question detailing that the week before filming was filled with introductory improv games via the “amazing director” Dean Israelite and a collection of required movie nights including titles such as “The Goonies.” Grabinski follows this up with their trip to the “worst bowling alley in Canada” where they experienced a shared confusion over its miniature sized balls and pins.

Was there anything from the original series that you felt absolutely needed to show up in this remake?

Grabinski states “a lot of things jumping out of the water.” “My favorite episode is the skeleton in the pool and there are multiple scary moments involving kids and water and things in water…When I’ve shown the episodes to people, across the board everyone says that the most scary are the water scenes.” Wray is hopeful these scenes “give people nightmares.”

Besides the dark, what is one thing you are afraid of?

Grabinski: “Public speaking.”

Wray: “Being alone in the dark.”

Arnold: “Scorpians!”

At this moment the quartet was whisked away to join executive producer Matt Kaplan, Jeremy Rae Taylor (Graham) and Miya Cech (Akiko) at their scheduled panel where the audience had a chance to ask their own questions and to see stills from the upcoming series.

Part one of Are You Afraid of the Dark? will debut on Friday, Oct. 11, at 7:00 p.m. (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon, with parts two and three to follow Oct. 18, and Oct. 25, respectively.