Heading into the Halloween Season, it’s time for all things spooky. As part of Disney+ Hallowstream, they have delivered Just Beyond just in time, and it hits every spooky note that a series for teens should. I’m an avid lover of family-friendly Halloween content, from comics, to movies (Halloweentown is my JAM) to trick or treating, so jumping into Just Beyond felt…just right.
Witches, monsters, ghosts and alternate universes are just some themes covered in this eight-episode series from the world of R.L. Stine (who co-executive produces). Each episode is its own story, with an all-new cast, new towns and new horrors. It’s perfect to jump into as a family or binge-watch on your own.
I will admit, this is definitely made for pre-teens, but even as an adult, I could enjoy each story and identify with some of the teen’s struggles. There are campy moments that are over-the-top, but fit perfectly for a teen drama, so I have to let that slide.
“It’s good to know that Green Day is still the anthem of teenage rebellion.”
Episode one, Leave Them Kids Alone, starts the series off strong with hints of brainwashing and a great soundtrack. It’s good to know that Green Day is still the anthem of teenage rebellion. The episode had some quotable moments, mainly spoken by Miss Genevive, played by Nasim Pedrad (SNL, New Girl). This was a role unlike any I have seen her in before and watching her hate and torture children was surprisingly satisfying.
Each episode in Just Beyond manages to take subjects that teens struggle with regularly—like body image, parents, bullies, and fear—and turn them into exaggerated horror-fare that is mostly safe to watch as a family. I will mention that Episode five, My Monster, features a creature whose face genuinely freaked me out, so maybe keep the little ones away from that.
Within the series you can expect to see witches (Which Witch), monsters (My Monster), aliens (Parents Are From Mars, Kids Are From Venus), alternate universes (The Treehouse), brainwashing (Leave Them Kids Alone), ghosts (We’ve Got Spirits, Yes We Do), mutation (Unfiltered) and curses (Standing up for Yourself).
“Disney puts their wholesome spin on each Halloween theme in Just Beyond, making it easily relatable.”
The good news is that, because each episode is its own entity, if you’re excited about any of these spooky subjects—or not so keen on others—you can jump to, or omit any episode you’d like. Witches and brainwashing are right up my alley and these episodes didn’t disappoint. I felt a lot of ‘girl power’ in Leave Them Kids Alone, and Which Witch was a feel-good family channel-type of experience. In both cases, I enjoyed it. Disney puts their wholesome spin on each Halloween theme in Just Beyond, making it easily relatable.
I grew up reading R.L Stine’s Goosebumps. Granted, I haven’t checked back in with those novels since I was a kid, it feels like they held a touch more spook back in my youth. Just Beyond feels like a slightly more innocent version of the children’s horror I grew up with. Night of the Living Dummy still creeps me out, even in my 30s. Aside from the face I mentioned above, nothing about these episodes will instill fear, ghosts and aliens eventually appear more goofy than anything.
Heading into the Halloween season, Just Beyond is a great starting point to introduce younger children to ghosts, monsters and aliens while keeping with family values and adding just a touch of spookiness. The show is exactly what you would expect from a stereotypical Disney show, so be prepared to deal with feel-good life lessons among these otherworldly creatures. Just beyond is a great watch for young families, but the campy effects and dialogue could lose the attention of older viewers.