Parents' Guide to

Orion and the Dark

By Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Child faces fears in book-based fantasy; peril, scares.

Movie NR 2024 92 minutes
Orion and the Dark movie poster: Animated nighttime characters.

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 14 parent reviews

age 10+

Watch first before letting an anxious child see this!

I DEEPLY regret watching this movie with my anxious 8 year old without vetting it first. The trailer made it look like this would be a cute story about dealing with anxieties and finding the beauty in night. Instead we got extreme and highly detailed existential dread of death in the first 15 minutes. There are pretty scary anxious thoughts repeated constantly through the movie, and the character NEVER deals with a seriously medical level of anxiety besides “Feel the fear and do it anyway!” Possibly one of the least helpful things you can tell a highly anxious child. Are there children that would love this rambling, nihilistic, creative story? Oh absolutely! And indeed those kids may adore this movie because you certainly won’t find its like anywhere else. But please, please be careful if you have an anxious child and watch the whole thing first. I was looking for a sweet story to help with bedtime. Instead I got a grab-bag of worse terrors with zero helpful advice, and I expect bedtime is going to painful for a while after this.
age 18+

not recommended for children.

The part where sleep character smothers a person with a pillow, to get them to sleep. Then uses chloroform to get some one to sleep, then she was about to hit a baby on the head with a hammer. It was distressing for my kids to watch . We didn't know the movie had these . Not recommended for children.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (14 ):
Kids say (11 ):

The visual and narrative magic of this film helps to balance a potentially downbeat reading of a generation of anxious kids who, if Orion is any indication, must be taught to live. Written by Charlie Kaufman and based on a book by Emma Yarlett, Orion and the Dark makes its target audience clear in the first lines of the film, when its 11-year-old everyman protagonist says, "I'm a kid, just like you." Orion's nail-biting world is quickly revealed as his fears are entertainingly visualized in childlike drawings that leap off the pages of his sketchbook. These scratches are later complemented with soaring animated dreamscapes of competing ghost-like entities spreading light and dark around the globe, over varied landscapes, towns, and cities.

The film features a narration by German filmmaker Werner Herzog and Kaufman-style narrative-shifting and time-bending, where the action is spliced to flash forward to Orion crafting the story we're watching for his daughter, and back and forth from there. A time-traveling character with monster-tasing weaponry feels completely out of place, until it's revealed it's someone else's imagination who conjured up that scenario. It's all a neat narrative trick that, surprisingly, shouldn't lose young audiences along the way. As Orion's daughter Hypatia complains, adults love simple stories. This film might have some relatively straightforward messages, but it's not exactly a simple tale. And it's better for that.

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