It’s The ‘Burbs episode!
Okay, well, this episode is also part Fright Night but since I watched The ‘Burbs with my husband this past weekend – this is The ‘Burbs episode.
Either way – it’s Betty Ann’s turn to tell a tale. The group are having a discussion about why things are scarier at night. And for Betty Ann, true terror always begins at nighttime.
“The Tale of the Nightly Neighbors” follows siblings Emma and Dayday (who to blame for this one? Canada? The 90s?) as new neighbours move in across the street. They’re a nosy pair that prefer to watch the new family through their curtains and blinds.
The new family are instantly weird. They wear all black. They’re moving in at nighttime. Even worse – they find out that the family are (gasp!) from the Ukraine. Which, of course, could mean spies fleeing after the fall of the Soviet Union.
They go to meet their neighbours one day when they bump into a man delivering two large crates. He tells them that the family name is Braun and that the crates he’s moving each contain a large refrigerator. And the family don’t answer the door, despite the fact that their car is sitting in the garage.
Emma begins suspects that something a bit more sinister than Soviet spies is going on. Later, the pair talk to their mailman, who says he’s feeling under the weather. He tells them that he has met the Brauns, and has felt ill ever since that night. They notice that their mailman has a bandage on his neck. Emma also notices that the Brauns are only out at night. The son, Lex, only asks to play after the sun has set.
When she terrifying nightmare, Emma finally connects the dots and believes that the Braun family are vampires. After she wakes, Emma goes to tell Dayday about her theory. She tells him that she suspects that the crates didn’t actually contain fridges, but coffins. Considering the part of the world they come from – near Transylvania – it is entirely plausible that their new neighbours are blood-sucking fiends.
That night, Emma tells Dayday that she’s going to break into the Brauns’ home. She reminds him that because they are vampires, they can’t go into their house unless they are invited in. She leaves Dayday in charge. But as soon as she slips away, the Brauns arrive, asking if they can come in. Despite the fact that Dayday slams the door in their face, his mother opens it again and invites in their new neighbours.
While in the basement, Emma discovers that there is actually a large chest freezer in the basement. The girl admits she feels silly, but notices that the fridge is locked. The quickly picks the lock, but before she can open it, Dayday scares her with his arrival into the basement. He warns her that the Brauns are on their way home, but before they leave she looks in the fridge and discovers that it is filled with units of blood.
The following day, Emma pulls Dayday into another silly plan. She gives him stakes to drive through the hearts of the Brauns and gives him a cross to wear around his neck. She tells him that they are going back to the basement during the day to look for the coffins, as she thinks she knows where they are being hidden.
The two slip back into the basement through the window, but before Emma can open the door behind yet another combination lock, someone enters and the kids chicken out.
As they leave the basement, they are caught by Mr and Mrs Braun – who are out in broad daylight. Something vampires aren’t supposed to be able to do. They tell the children that their shifts at the hospital have changed and that they have been holding surplus units of blood for the hospital at their house.
Dayday, being an idiot, forgot to mention to his sister that the Brauns had told him and his mom that they were studying the emergency health services in the country to help improve their in the Ukraine. Feeling foolish, Emma agrees when the Brauns ask if their son Lex can visit the children that night.
After the kids leave, Mr and Mrs Braun go into the basement and unlock the second lock that Emma had picked. But behind the door is a coffin, indeed containing a vampire. Not Mr or Mrs Braun, but Lex – their master. They tell Lex that he has been invited over to Emma and Dayday’s house, and then they all laugh manically because that’s what bad vampires do.
Betty Ann’s story unsettles the Midnight Society, proving her point that the dark is always scarier. And though it’s a pretty derivative tale, this is one of the more fun episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark? It’s a throwback to golden moments in horror, and I love it. Plus tales of paranoid suburbia are always great for entertaining tales.
Highlight quotes of the episode:
“They’re vampires alright, and you invited them in.” – Emma
“No I didn’t! Mom did!” – Dayday, who will probably die first
“I’m scared Em’.” – Dayday
“Me too, but get a grip.” – Emma, who is all of us