An adult friendly film for kids with its heart in the right place, but not enough soul
Orion and the Dark story: Young Orion (Jacob Tremblay) has an endless list of things that he’s scared of, including talking to his classmate crush Sally, the school bully, clogging the toilet and flooding the school, killer bees, gutter clowns, deadly cell phone waves – you name it and it’s all there in his sketchbook, where he lists his fears. The biggest, of course, is his fear of darkness, but everything Dark (Paul Walter Hauser) and his friends of the night – Sleep, Sweet Dreams, Insomnia, Quiet and Unexplained Noises – are up to isn’t all that bad actually.
Orion and the Dark review: The next time you fall asleep, remember that there’s a night entity that’s just smothered you with a ‘sleep’ pillow and then kisses you good night. If the night’s all quiet before you drift off, it’s down to Quiet, while Unexplained Noises making scraping sounds and Insomnia whispering some terrible things into your ear could be why you can’t get sound sleep. There’s a lot at play every night, when darkness looms, and it’s really not the stuff of nightmares, or so we are told in the new animation flick that’s dropped on Netflix.
There’s something unnerving about the absence of light that everyone would have experienced at some point in life. There are not many of us who’d dare to go to bed without the comfort of some form of light peeking through from a corner of the room or house. A bedside light, or one in the corridor outside the bedroom for which you leave the door slightly ajar.
Young Orion would rather have as much light as possible streaming in from outside his door by leaving it completely open at night. But when his parents turn that light off and the night lights he plugs in also go out, he’s confronted by his biggest fear, Dark himself, a nice guy, who’s just saddened that people are so terrified of him – Orion being one of the loudest. Dark just wants people to give him a chance to show them he isn’t the bad guy.
Dark figures that if Orion spends one night with him, he could change the lad’s perception after all. Can Dark change Orion’s mind after all, what with Light nipping at his heels? Not really, because Orion ends up convincing the other night entities that everything’s better under the light that they ‘quit’ their night jobs and Dark decides there’s no running away from Light anymore. Can Orion bring Dark back?
Orion and the Dark verdict: The problem with Orion and the Dark is its predictability and that it’s underlying message that you’ve got to stop running and face your fears, does not make for any heart-thumping or soul-stirring moments. I spent a good while trying to figure out if there is a saleable USP to this tale, but came a cropper. This is probably why the film has skipped a theatrical outing and has come directly on Netflix.