Orion and the Dark is a new animated film released on Netflix that is meant entirely for kids, even though it packs enough for adults to enjoy as well. The film features a young boy named Orion, who is afraid of almost anything and any uncomfortable situation in the world, until he has a really unique experience when darkness appears as a living entity to him and takes him on a wild adventure. Overall, Orion and the Dark is quite enjoyable throughout its duration, and it successfully delivers the intended effect as well.
Who is Orion?
Orion and the Dark introduces us to little Orion, a young boy in junior high who nervously approaches a girl from his class named Sally. Orion likes Sally and really wants to know her better, and he prepares a whole conversation to have with the girl even before going over to her. However, just like every other time, Orion’s fear of rejection and embarrassment stops him from talking with Sally, and the boy has never had any actual conversation with his crush. Such an introduction perfectly sums up young Orion, who is scared of numerous things in life, all of which get in the way of him having any fun. Despite knowing the answers to the questions asked in class, he shies away from asking for the chance out of fear that he will spurt out some wrong word or pronunciation. The thought of him accidentally clogging the school toilet and flooding the entire school bothers him every day. The usual fears of height, infections, dogs, and murderous clowns also keep Orion alert at all times.
Out of all his fears, some are exceptional in nature because of how much they scare him, and a bully in school named Richi Panichi is among the top ones. Richi is incredibly tough and hurtful towards Orion, as he bullies the timid boy on a regular basis. Even though Orion does feel like standing up for himself at times, he can never gather the courage to do so, and he even thanks his bully in some instances without even wanting to do so. With all his fears combined, it is no wonder that Orion has been avoiding an upcoming school trip to the planetarium, for he constantly thinks of the negatives that can happen on such a trip. The boy even keeps the permission slip from his parents, knowing well that they will encourage him to go to the planetarium and have new experiences. Despite having a pair of loving and understanding parents, the boy even has the irrational fear that they will abandon him.
In fact, almost all of Orion’s fears do not really have any reason, and so Orion and the Dark does not get into the cause of them, rather focusing on how the boy gets over them. He is most scared of darkness, as the boy cannot even spend a few minutes alone in the dark. Even while going to sleep, he lights up his room to get rid of any possible darkness, but on this particular occasion, it all goes to waste when a storm outside leads to a power cut. Shaking out of fear inside his room, Orion suddenly sees the darkness take a very finite shape, with eyes and a mouth, and it starts to talk to the boy. The darkness, lovingly called Dark, expresses his dislike towards everyone hating and fearing him so much, and he is particularly distressed with Orion because the boy is terrified of him.
Dark is on a personal mission to change everyone’s dislike for him, and his idea is to be friends with the boy most scared of him so that the world learns how good he actually is. As part of this plan, he wants to take Orion out for twenty-four hours to show him his work, hoping to change the boy’s mind. Although Orion initially refuses to go, he also quickly realizes that this would be a chance to face his fears and finally agrees to it. Thus, Dark and Orion set out on an adventure that surely helps the boy get over his fears.
How does Orion get in the way of Dark’s friends?
Orion remains confused and scared for a long time during his journey with Dark, and the boy prefers keeping his eyes shut to be safe. Some time later, Dark introduces Orion to his friends, who are all entities of things associated with nighttime. But none of them are welcoming of the boy, as they feel that Orion’s presence could very well disrupt their schedule and lead to their becoming non-existent. After all, each of them, and especially Dark, runs on a tight schedule, bringing shade all over the world while also being constantly chased by Light, who has the responsibility of lighting up the world in time. Thus, if Orion somehow messes up Dark’s schedule, it would be a disaster for the entity as he would be engulfed by Light.
Despite the warnings from his friends, Dark keeps Orion with him throughout the night, and when the two go around looking at the nightly work of the others, the young boy unintentionally creates a lot of trouble. Seeing the job of Sleep, Orion is concerned that the entity uses too much force in putting everyone to sleep, and he is also worried about Sleep’s habit of kissing everyone. In response, Sleep lashes out that it has been doing the same job for over thousands of years and therefore needs nobody to intervene in the matter. When observing Insomnia’s practice of going around houses and whispering about embarrassing memories and thoughts to people, keeping them awake, Orion is angry at the entity for being so insensitive. But Insomnia reminds us that it is simply mirroring the very consciousness of the people and that its presence is required for a healthy balance as well.
Similarly, when the boy sees Unexplained Noises that make loud sounds only to scare a kid, he refuses to believe that these entities need to exist at all. Next, Orion gets in the way of Quiet’s work, for he himself cannot bear with the silence and makes a noise, leading to the whole area waking up once again. Lastly, Dark takes Orion inside the mind of a woman to show him how Sweet Dreams operates, but this turns dangerous as Orion uncontrollably thinks of frightening things, which immediately become living entities inside the dream world. It is after a great struggle that the three escape from the dream world, and Sweet Dreams once again reprimands Dark against keeping Orion with him any longer.
Eventually, the entities question why Orion dislikes nighttime, and the boy talks about how colorful and vibrant the daytime is. Even to appreciate the beauty of things at night, there is a need for light, and through this conversation, the boy is able to convince the other entities that the only problem is with darkness, as everyone else can also survive with light. This turns each of the entities against Dark, and out of sadness and frustration, Dark gives himself up to the powers of Light, and the friendly entity disappears. This has a tremendous impact on the world, as the absence of any darkness makes things too bright for humans. Without Dark, the other nighttime entities try to co-exist with Light, and this messes up the time cycle for humans as well, causing too much chaos.
How does Orion bring back Dark?
As the effect of Dark’s absence creates trouble for the world and also saddens Orion and the other entities, they decide to somehow bring the darkness back, which is greatly required for the balance. The best part about Orion and the Dark is how it also presents a very real backdrop to its story. Fairly early in the film, it is revealed that this fantastical tale about young Orion being taken on a mighty adventure by Dark is being told by adult Orion to his young daughter, Hypatia. Thus, the beginning scenes of young Orion are actually part of his story, in which he is telling his daughter to ease her own difficulties with fears and inhibitions. After all, the fear of darkness is something very common among children, and as a father, Orion is essentially spinning a tale about his own experiences to help little Hypatia.
The narration of the story takes a pause when the father and daughter step out to take a walk at night, but Hypatia is enthusiastic to take it forward. Orion admits that he has been making up the story all along and that he has run out of ideas at this moment, when his younger version is trying to revive Dark. Hypatia now steps in, quite literally, into the story to be a character in it as well. Together with the help of the other nighttime entities, Orion goes inside his own dream to bring back Dark, signifying how there is a little darkness inside all of our minds. But it is Hypatia who comes to Orion’s rescue at the last moment, and the girl helps her father and his friend survive. Through this entire process, all of Orion’s fears are significantly reduced, and Hypatia has the same effect as well. In a beautiful manner, Orion and the Dark signifies how the father sharing about his struggles having eased both his mind and also now his daughter’s.
Dark is thankful to Orion for not abandoning him and instead coming back to revive him, and he is also glad to reunite with his other entity friends. Dark finally takes Orion and Hypatia back to their house, leaving them for the night and thanking them for the opportunity to know and love him. With his newfound confidence, Orion asks his parents to sign the permission slip for the school trip, and at the planetarium, he sits beside Sally throughout the day. In fact, Orion and Sally had grown up to get married and have their daughter, Hypatia.
How does Orion’s dreamy story come to an end?
Although most matters have been put to rest, Hypatia still needs to return to her original home, which is not just in a different city but also many years in the future. While the two kids wonder what to do next, a third kid suddenly appears out of a portal and informs them that he is from the future. The new boy, named Tycho, reveals that he has traveled to the past only to take Hypatia home, and this has caused an interdimensional rift, forcing him to fight some monsters. Tycho does keep his word and takes Hypatia back to her timeline while fighting monsters as well.
Orion and the Dark‘s ending revealed that Tycho is actually the son of Hypatia, and the story was actually being told by adult Hypatia to her young son. The habit of passing on stories over generations, with each generation adding something extra to it, is a beautiful idea that the film makes use of. When young Hypatia heard that her father was stuck in a difficult situation in his own story, she jumped in to help him revive Dark. Similarly, young Tycho had now jumped into the story as a monster-fighting interdimensional traveler in order to save his mother and get her back to her reality. In the process, the fears and nervousness of children over three generations are eased away, with each of them finding a new confidence in themselves.