‘Home Before Dark’ Episodes 1-4 Reviewed

by Rachel Bellwoar

Casting a nine-year-old to play an investigative journalist – has TV exhausted every other age group or is this what Hollywood ageism has come to? There are a lot of ways Home Before Dark could come across as a gimmick, or worse, inappropriate. That’s what Hilde’s principal (Joelle Carter) thinks the first time she calls Hilde (Brooklynn Prince) down to her office at school. It’s after Hilde has posted her newspaper with the headline “Murder in Eerie Harbor?” on the school website. Murder isn’t cute and Home Before Dark could’ve saved itself a lot of trouble by having Hilde report on missing pets or local garage sales, but that’s not what the real Hilde – Hilde Lysiak – did and Home Before Dark stands out because it doesn’t shy away from the truth.

Brooklynn Prince and Jim Sturgess in Home Before Dark, premiering April 3 on Apple TV+.

That means a nine-year-old can be a serious journalist, and instead of trying to stop Hilde from chasing a story, Home Before Dark helps her gain experience. That’s the one way Hilde’s age works against her. She has a lot to learn, but because the show is quick to stop obsessing about her age it’s able to focus on more important lessons; like making sure she has all the facts before publishing a theory prematurely.
It helps that Hilde’s parents are supportive, too. Some reviewers have compared Home Before Dark to Veronica Mars, but a huge difference between the two shows is Hilde wasn’t driven to become a journalist because of tragedy. Her dad, Matt (Jim Sturgess), was a journalist in Brooklyn, which is how she caught the reporting bug, but it’s only been since they moved to Erie Harbor that she’s learned about his traumatic childhood.
His best friend, Richie Fife (Kiefer O’Reilly), was kidnapped and never found in Erie Harbor. While that makes solving this case personal, Hilde isn’t just a pair of fresh eyes. She’s the journalist we haven’t seen on TV before – the one with a happy childhood.
Brooklynn Prince, Jibrail Nantambu and Deric McCabe in Home Before Dark, premiering April 3 on Apple TV+.

More than Hilde’s age, that might be the most novel thing about Home Before Dark: the way it portrays her family. Hilde’s relationship with her dad could’ve left no space for anyone else, but here her mom (Abby Miller) gets to share their same passion for justice, while her older sister, Izzy (Kylie Rogers), gets to disagree with Hilde and not be painted out as the villain. Even Hilde’s younger sister, Ginny (Mila Morgan), doesn’t get forgotten in the midst of everything else going on.
Prince is a star (just watch the emotions she goes through after Hilde’s dad snaps at her in episode one) and her scenes with Aziza Scott as Trip, a cop with a soft spot for Hilde, are wonderful. Unfortunately, I don’t know that this show has gotten enough publicity. While I’ve seen commercials for Apple TV+’s Amazing Stories, the only reason I found out about Home Before Dark is because of other reviewers.
It feels like a series that, if it were on Netflix right now, would be as big as Stranger Things — not because they’re particularly similar (other than kids riding bikes) but because they’re shows the whole family can watch together. Apple TV+ has a 7-day free trial, so if you haven’t used it yet, this is the time to do it. If you loved Prince in The Florida Project, or enjoy a compelling mystery, then make Home Before Dark your next binge watch.
Home Before Dark is streaming now on Apple TV+.

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