Are You Afraid of the Dark: Curse of the Shadows – The Tale of the Phantom Light (Episode 3) Review
On this week’s episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark: Curse of the Shadows, The Tale of the Phantom Light, the group holds a séance to find answers on how to break the Shadowman’s (Kyle Strauts) curse from the source that started it all.
For about the first half or so of the episode, we’re basically just in the bland territory we’ve been in. The jokes are still hit or miss and it’s a tad annoying how the potentially cool horror elements get tainted by failed jokes. Things like the group wanting to channel the spirit of Elvis Presley when Sardo (Ryan Bell) is teaching them how to perform a séance is just so unnecessarily dumb. It’s also annoying how persistent this series is on trying to couple up Luke (Bryce Gheisar) and Hanna (Beatrice Kitsos) for no real reason. They’re the definition of a forced relationship and there’s no real reason for there to be such an overt romantic subplot to be happening here. It’s just the awkward young teen romance stuff you’re used to seeing and still doesn’t add anything to the characters.
Another strange element to this episode is that character logic feels lost. It all starts with Gabby (Malia Baker) and Luke getting out of being caught by their parents sneaking back in. If Gabby’s mom was home before her, how could she possibly not see that her car was gone? This and everything with Luke’s dad define clueless parents and it’s just baffling at times how this script just bends characters logic to unbelievable levels. The most blatant disregard for character logic comes towards the end of the episode when group is once again trying to fend off the Shadowman.
As Luke struggles to read a spell that breaks the Shadowman’s bind and the group fends him off with flashlights, there’s a thought that comes to mind – why don’t they just use the flashlights on their phones? It’s odd that this group of young teens gravitate more to using plug-in and battery powered technology rather than just use their phones. The light is probably much stronger and most, if not all, modern smartphones have a flashlight app or can produce light. They even show Gabby escaping from the Shadowman with the flash of her camera, so it doesn’t make sense that no one, especially Luke trying to read, is pulling out their phone.
Thankfully, things get a lot better in the second half of this episode as it digs more into lore and narrative. Once the group leaves Sardo behind and heads to a cottage near the lighthouse in order to retrieve the book that Connor (Parker Queenan) stole from Sardo, things get much more interesting. They decide to perform a séance of their own in order to contact the spirit of June Murphy (Genea Charpentier), the girl who they believe possibly started this curse, and end up doing some fun time traveling. The spirit of June ends up bringing them back into the 90s where her and her father Charlie (Aaron Douglas) live near the lighthouse and jam out to some Ace of Base until the town decides to close the lighthouse and end Charlie’s time as the lighthouse keeper. It’s a great sequence that fleshes out the narrative of the curse and even of the Shadowman since we find out that he’s actually Charlie. After June dies from trying to retrieve the key to the lighthouse to turn it back on, Charlie uses the book of shadows to turn himself into the Shadowman. It’s a great reveal that adds more history to the series’ main antagonist and creates some perfectly dark lore around the character.
After that, we basically get another solid sequence, aside from the lack of character logic mentioned before, of the group trying to fend off the Shadowman while Luke reads a spell from the book. Luke eventually finishes reading and it seems like it worked. Connor even re-appears for the group to give him a group hug and Luke is almost in tears. However, the “phantom light” that Sardo gives the group to detect evil spirits is going off, so it’s more than likely that this Connor isn’t the real Connor. Regardless, it’s nice that it finally feels like the story is getting somewhere good and with the group thinking that things are fine, there’s definitely some nice twists in store for the near future and for the Shadowman to return.
Even with there being some missteps that carry over from previous episodes, this week’s episode shows the series starting to hit a good stride with a deeper dive into the Shadowman’s history and some great reveals that build on the lore and possible twists to shock the group down the road.