“Orion and the Dark”: All You Need To Know.

Orion and the Dark

“Orion and the Dark” is a DreamWorks production for Netflix that turns classic childhood fears into something unexpectedly complex, and occasionally rich and wonderful. The film is based on the book by Emma Yarlett and features a screenplay by Charlie Kaufman, known for his work on “Being John Malkovich” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

Orion and the Dark

The protagonist, 11-year-old Orion (voiced by Jacob Tremblay), is a mass of anxieties, topped by his fear of the dark. That phobia takes a tangible turn when Dark (recent Emmy winner Paul Walter Hauser) comes bounding out of the closet, asking (OK, insisting) that Orion spend a night with him to conquer what scares him.

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The movie is part “Inside Out,” part “A Christmas Carol,” with a pinch of “Monsters Inc.” It proves denser than that, since their adventures amount to a story within a story that deals not only with childhood but parenting and the way things get passed from generation to generation.

Orion and the Dark

From that perspective, the movie might be a little too thoughtful and esoteric for younger kids, despite the colorful nature of the animation, unless those tykes are apt to giggle at the amusing inclusion of a narrative cameo by director Werner Herzog.

Still, even if the movie’s head is occasionally in the clouds, “Orion’s” heart is very much in the right place, as Dark leads Orion through a dizzying tour of his nighttime world, where the denizens include Dreams (Angela Bassett), Insomnia (Nat Faxon), Quiet (Aparna Nancherla) and, of course, Light (Ike Barinholtz).

Orion and the Dark

While the build-up to the final act becomes a bit too chaotic, the underlying ideas about childhood and understanding how kids process their own internal worlds has a universal quality that the filmmakers nicely address, with a central character that, in terms of animated movies, is more neurotic than most. Given its potential commercial limitations and modest scale, the film’s debut via Netflix seems logical.

Yet like the movies that appear to have inspired it, “Orion and the Dark” could have a long tail, at its best casting off the same warming glow on things that go bump in the night as a small light in a darkened room.

Orion and the Dark

Overall, “Orion and the Dark” is a beautifully crafted animated film that uniquely and thoughtfully tackles childhood fears. The film’s complex storytelling and rich visuals make it a must-watch for anyone ever afraid of the dark.

Also Read: Best Netflix Series for Families

Orion and the Dark Trailer

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