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Fright Krewe: Just in Time for Halloween, Eli Roth and James Frey Deliver Scares for Teens

Fright Krewe is an original DreamWorks Animation horror series for teens.

By Tara Bennett
Papa Legba, Pat Stanley, Ayizan Ogoun , Missy Soleil, and Ayida Weddo Maybe Mama Brigitte with the members of Fight Krewe in Fright Krewe 102

Everybody's journey into loving the horror genre starts somewhere. Whether it was an early obsession with Scooby-Doo cartoons, or just getting talked into watching your first horror movie as a kid and then being forever hooked, there's myriad ways of joining the horror tribe. Today, that increasingly includes horror creators intentionally making stories meant to grab the eyes of younger viewers, like Eli Roth has done with the new teen-centric animated series, Fright Krewe

The DreamWorks Animation series, which is now streaming on Peacock, is the brainchild of Roth and author James Frey (I Am Number Four), with the series developed and showrun/executive produced by veteran animation writers Joanna Lewis and Kristine Songco (Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous). 

RELATED: It's Goosebumps Meets Power Rangers in First Trailer for Peacock's Animated Horror Series Fright Krewe

Set in contemporary New Orleans, horror-loving teen Soleil Le Claire (Sydney Mikayla) is a high school student by day, and a tour guide for local haunts by night. An outsider by choice, she ends up getting detention and cleaning up the local cemetery with a few of her school peers: Missy (Grace Lu), Pat (Terrence Little Gardenhigh), Stanley (Chester Rushing) and Maybe (Tim Johnson Jr.). A bit of blood spilled and bad timing means the group gets bestowed with the individual loa (or Voodoo spirits), so they can use their powers to fight the ancient demon spirit, Belial (Jacques Colimon).

An Inside Look at DreamWorks Animations' Fright Krewe

One of the many charms of Fright Krewe is how seeped it is in authentic New Orleans culture, religious practices, and Voodoo lore. It's so potent because that's where the idea for the show began. "James and Eli had this really cool idea for a show set in New Orleans where [Voodoo practitioner] Marie Laveau gives a group of kids supernatural powers," Songco explained to SYFY WIRE. "It was originally meant for a bit of a younger audience, but Joanna and I were coming off of Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, so DreamWorks knew we could do older, more serialized shows."

After meeting with Roth and Frey, they all bonded over their NOLA love, and Songco and Lewis set to work fleshing out the idea and the ensemble characters. "We made things a bit more dramatic and put it in that space," Songco said of shaping the show for older tweens and teens. "We were going for a little more realistic with the [kid's] relationships. There are consequences and there is fallout to things."

Lewis added, "In the original concept, it was much more of 'a monster of the week' idea. Part of serializing it, aging it up, and making it older was to create more global arcs with a big overall narrative that we are following. So that is how this this season will play out with a big overall arc," she said of the Krewe chasing down Belial. "But that doesn't mean that every individual episode doesn't also have its little adventures that everybody goes on. But the thing that is cool about this is that because of the highly serialized nature of it, we're able to tell a full encapsulated tale."

How Scary Is Fright Krewe?

The cast of Fright Krewe

Getting to play in such a spooky world is a bit ironic for the duo, as Songco and Lewis admit they had never done anything in the horror world before. "This has been touted as like gateway horror for the in-between, older audience where it's not straight up like slasher, blood and guts everywhere. But it's scary," Songco qualified. "So dipping our toes into this kind of horror helped us have that perspective. And especially because it was something for kids, we had to find different ways to make something scary because it isn't just about blood and guts."

Lewis said they took it very seriously, jumped into the genre, and studied it like nerds. "We watched some horror movies and we studied how they were doing their scares, like the amount of time in a story between scares, and what would happen if you played with that. And then how you're able to break tension and inch that tension up. We did a lot of a lot of research, but we are children of the '80s and the '90s. We grew up watching scarier things, so we expect kids to actually also be able to handle it, And also enjoy it because there is that really empowering thing about seeing something that scares you and being able to be brave enough to handle it. You test your mettle, and it's a very safe way to test your mettle as a child because there's no actual physical danger to you in going to see something scary. But you're still spiking the cortisol levels in your brain. You're still inciting the fight or flight response. I think it's a pivotal part of growing up."

RELATED: An Animated Horror Series? From Eli Roth & DreamWorks? Say Hello to the Fright Krewe

With Fright Krewe now out in the world, Lewis said she is proud of how much they actually pushed the scares and their horror storytelling chops. "Kristine and I took the approach that we'd push as far as we can. And if like James or Eli were like, 'Guys, that's too scary,' we did it right," she laughed. 

Songco added, "We've been working with our post-production people and whenever we tell them that we didn't start off as horror people, they're like, 'What?!'"

Lewis continued, "And that really is an amazing compliment for us, because you know that means that if we throw ourselves into it, we can tell any story we want to tell. It's a nice feeling as a storyteller."

All 10 episodes of Fright Krewe Season 1 are now streaming on Peacock and Hulu.