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Best of ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark’: The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner (Season 4 Episode 9)

Any episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark that opens with some comic book banter is destined for greatness.

The story focuses on a young, aspiring comic book creator. But all of his submissions are being rejected and he’s losing hope of finding a place for himself in his dream reality. And then he gets a mysterious invite to check out the grand opening of a new local comic shop. When he arrives he learns that the invite isn’t really all about the comic shop in general, it’s about connecting with this kid, who seems to have a fan base he doesn’t know about; the comic shop employee practically begs him to see some work. As it turns out, he has a style very similar to a somewhat famous artist who wrote one single issue of The Ghastly Grinner before being overwhelmed by his creation and completely disappearing.

Whoever the broad working at the store is, she obviously has some kind of obsession with the man who drew The Ghastly Grinner, as she just about melts while discussing him. But maybe there’s more to this story, as she hands over the only known copy of The Ghastly Grinner to the young talent in front of her. He makes the mistake of taking the comic to school where it’s lifted by one of his teachers (he’s a cruel bastard!) who then drops it into the classroom aquarium. So much for one of a kind.

This episode is sprinkled with awesome irony, which seems like a fine setup for ushering one young boy into the shoes of a man who went missing, terrified by his very own creation.

Speaking of that creation, it comes to life through a fluke electrical mishap. That’s right, one minute this unfortunate chap is all but weeping over his damaged prize, and the next he’s wrapped up in the world of The Ghastly Grinner himself.

Showrunners don’t go too far overboard with the look of the titular character, and that’s great. The constant looks at the comic shop and the school all create an awesome nostalgia, and when that nostalgia collides with the look of The Ghastly Grinner, we know we’ve got a gold mine of an episode on our hands. It all just comes together perfectly.

Only our young unlikely hero has the tools to finish the final issue of the book, and hopefully do away with the unorthodox menace, but can he get the job done? His track record in the comic business hasn’t exactly been promising. Can he rise to the occasion when the occasion could bring about his own demise?

Yeah, this is definitely a stellar episode. There’s so much great imagery here it’s just about impossible to dislike, or find unappealing. This episode really feels like a nod to the outcast kid, and if you’re hanging around on a site like this, reading the jumbled thoughts of a weirdo like me, you’re probably one of the outcasts. In which case, I say welcome – I hope you enjoyed returning to a classic sliver of your childhood. Stick around, we write some crazy stuff on Addicted to Horror Movies!

About The Overseer (2283 Articles)
Author of Say No to Drugs, writer for Blumhouse, Dread Central, Horror Novel Reviews and Addicted to Horror Movies.

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