“Orion and the Dark”: A Quirky Animated Journey into Childhood Fears

“Orion and the Dark”: A Whimsical Journey into Quirkiness

In the realm of children’s animated movies, Netflix and DreamWorks’ “Orion and the Dark” initially presents itself as a typical tale of a boy overcoming his fear of the dark. However, the magic lies in the quirky and unexpected, thanks to the ingenious mind of Charlie Kaufman, the mastermind behind films like “Being John Malkovich” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

Directed by Sean Charmatz, this animated gem takes audiences on a metatextual adventure that defies conventional expectations. Based on Emma Yarlett’s picture book, the story follows Orion, a timid boy beautifully voiced by Jacob Tremblay, as he navigates various fears, including the darkness that haunts his nights.

What sets “Orion and the Dark” apart is Kaufman’s touch, infusing the narrative with a surreal and deep exploration of Orion’s anxieties. The characters, from the personified darkness (Paul Walter Hauser) to the deities of sleep and insomnia, are brought to life with distinctive designs, enhancing the storybook atmosphere.

The animation itself is a visual treat, departing from DreamWorks’ usual style to embrace a tactile and uniquely crafted CG aesthetic. The movie’s look pays homage to the original book’s pencil-and-paper illustrations while seamlessly incorporating modern 3D rendering.

As the story unfolds, Kaufman introduces a twist typical of his storytelling finesse. The fairy tale takes an unexpected turn when it’s revealed to be narrated by an older Orion (Colin Hanks) to his daughter Hypatia (Mia Akemi Brown). This framing device adds a layer of depth, reminiscent of “The Princess Bride,” creating a heartfelt narrative within the fantastical adventure.

“Orion and the Dark” is not just a children’s animated film; it’s a whimsical journey into quirkiness, blending charm, creativity, and a touch of surrealism. Kaufman’s script elevates it beyond a standard fairy tale, making it a delightful experience for both children and adults alike.


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