Home Before Dark Review: Apple TV's New Series is Intriguing, Empowering, and Fun

at .  Updated at .

Hilde Lisko is a budding journalist and a fourth-grader and, thanks to the incredible talent of Brooklyn Prince (The Florida Project), both are completely believable.

As we find out early in Home Before Dark Season 1 Episode 1, Hilde is a force to be reckoned with. The fact that this force comes in the package of a nine-year-old girl makes Home Before Dark equal measures intriguing, empowering, and fun.

Hilde Lysiak - Home Before Dark

I must admit, I felt a connection to Hilde. We’re both writers, albeit I’m far from 9-years-old.

We both hate it when people use the term, “young lady” because even at the ripe old age of five I thought it sounded condescending.

Mayor Fife: I don’t like your tone, young lady. You have no idea what you’re getting into.
Hilde: I feel like being called a young lady should be a compliment but it never sounds like it is.

And we’re both more comfortable in the city than in a rural small town. At least in the city, someone will hear you scream. They might not do anything about it but at least they’ll hear you.

Created by Dana Fox (New Girl, Ben and Kate) and Dara Resnik (Daredevil, Castle, Mistresses), Home Before Dark wraps a compelling mystery around family drama and the belief that finding the truth is what makes everything work right.

The series isn’t overly dark but as it deals with murder and abduction—no real blood or gore, thank goodness— it’s also not for very young kids.

That said, my 10-year-old loved the pilot and I have no problem letting her watch the entire 10 episode run.

The mystery, which begins with Hilde refusing to believe that Penny Gillis' death was an accident and soon leads to a 30-year-old cold case connected to her father, has just enough twists and turns to keep you guessing until the very end.

But it's the family relationships that really anchor the story.

Matt and Bridget Lisko have a very close relationship with their daughters but that doesn't make them perfect parents.

Bridget and Matt - Home Before Dark Season 1 Episode 2

Considering how many times Hilde and older sister Izzy sneak out of the house at night, the Lisko house needs an alarm system to keep the kids in more than it needs one to keep anyone out.

Matt was traumatized when his childhood friend, Richie Fife, was abducted and dragged into a van when they were both 11-years-old. Richie was never found. 

Matt was also emotionally wounded when his own father didn't seem to believe his account of the events.

It's had Matt running from Erie Harbor most of his adult life, so moving his family back there after losing his job isn't easy and the continued torment has young Hilde determined to help "fix" her father by solving the case. 

Comforting Hilde - Home Before Dark Season 1 Episode 4

The family dynamics cover a wide variety of affecting topics including Alzheimer's, sibling rivalry, marital strife, school bullying, and deciding whether it's better to fit in or just accept who you are as the outsider.

Through every up and down, it's easy to root for the Lisko family because the love is always there, even in the moments where they're making one another crazy.

One of the highpoints of the series is that fictional Erie Harbor is located in the Pacific Northwest, allowing the show to take full advantage of the Vancouver landscapes where it was filmed. It can be equal parts beautiful and eerie.

The way the original crime, which took place in the 1980s, is viewed now makes for some amusing moments.

Quality Time With Izzy (Tall) - Home Before Dark Season 1 Episode 3

My daughter, much like Hilde, had never seen a VCR or a VHS tape and I had to explain what it was like to sit in a library for hours searching through microfiche to find just the right article. In the age of internet searches, that's a completely foreign concept.

There are some quirky, artistic touches to the series that could be considered charming or distracting depending on your point of view, like the animated drawings that allow us to look into the past.

At times I enjoyed them and at others, I wished they were actual flashbacks.

Also, by the end of the series I found myself craving to know more about Hilde's friends, Danny and Spoon and their families.

The Hunt For the Truth - Home Before Dark Season 1 Episode 3

That's one of the pitfalls of a streaming series having just 10 episodes instead of the 20+ installments you would get with a network series; the secondary characters tend to get short-changed due to the lack of time to explore their stories.

Overall, Home Before Dark is captivating entertainment that never backs away from important issues such as gender equality, racism, prejudice, and the importance of telling the truth and how telling a lie can have a ripple effect that can last a lifetime.  

In our current climate where the truth is frequently drowned out by shouts of fake news, perhaps the call for journalistic integrity and fortitude is the most important message of all.

Hilde: You’re afraid we’re right and if we are that means you did something wrong here. The truth is what makes everything work right. That’s what my Dad says. It’s bigger than me. It’s bigger than you. It’s bigger than all of us.
Sheriff Briggs: That’s adorable. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have real work to do.

As Hilde says, the truth is bigger than all of us. And if the determined voice of a nine-year-old girl can hold the powerful accountable, shouldn't we all?

Finding Trouble - Home Before Dark Season 1 Episode 3

Home Before Dark is currently available on Apple TV. Watch it on your own or with your family and then hit that BIG, BLUE, SHOW COMMENTS button down below because I'd love to hear what you think.  

You can watch Home Before Dark online here at TV Fanatic.

The Magic Hour Review

Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
  • 4.7 / 5.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (36 Votes)

C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.

Show Comments
Tags: ,

Home Before Dark Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

What are you going to report on in Eric Harbor anyway? An American flag that beats up an apple pie?


So we’re going to stay at my grandpa’s house since he moved to an old folks' home. My Mom and Dad say we’re there to be near him but I think it’s because it’s free and we don’t have anywhere else to go.