“Orion and the Dark,” a CG family comedy directed by Charlie Kaufman and based on Emma Yarlett’s 2014 novel, will be produced by DreamWorks Animation and Netflix. This darkly whimsical tale about a young boy confronting his greatest fear marks the debut of animator Sean Charmatz in a feature film.
That boy is Orion, portrayed by Jacob Tremblay. He is an elementary school student and a full-time fraidy cat who is terrified of heights, terrified of domestic animals, and nearly paralyzed by the dark, the worst of all plights. In order to demonstrate to Orion that there is nothing to be afraid of other than fear itself, the Dark (voiced by Paul Walter Hauser) takes Orion on a nocturnal adventure for just one night.
The title will be revealed by DreamWorks Animation on Tuesday at a studio focus at the Annecy Animation Festival. Three portions of a project that is well underway will be shown. Netflix will deliver the film in 2024.
In the first clip, the nervy youngster is seen going about his day, repeating his extensive list of fears like it were a mantra. Orion yells, “Rejection, humiliation, murderous gutter clowns.” The troubled boy continues, saying, “The film’s rounded 3D edges turn into rough 2D scribbles found on the back of a notebook.” Waves from my cell phone cause me cancer and say, “Good morning, bees, dogs, and the ocean!”
But the nighttime visitor who greets Orion when the lights go out is the greatest of all his fears. Because only our Dark is a boisterous and fun-loving individual, he takes the rejection in stride. He yells at the boy, “I’m going to get you to overcome your fears if it kills me.” “And I’m immortal, by the way, so I have all the time in the world.”
A cameo by (or pitch-perfect impression of) Werner Herzog appears in subsequent clips, which channel Kaufman’s impish sense of humor and hint at a larger universe full of literalized and embodied late-night phenomena. Different characters twirling all over this planet incorporate A sleeping disorder, Startling Commotions and Rest, who takes her objectives away to slumberland by covering them with a pad or drenching them with chloroform.
The excerpts, which are presented in varying degrees of completion, promise an elegant animation style, particularly when depicting the main, non-human character. The Dark covers him in a veil of black mist, casting a pall of shadow over him as he soars through the night sky and gliding with surprising agility around a flashlight’s beam when Orion tries to chase him away.
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