Home Entertainment Blumhouse’s Afraid Is Giving Disney’s Smart House Fans Deja Vu

Blumhouse’s Afraid Is Giving Disney’s Smart House Fans Deja Vu


Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, “Smart House” follows a single father and his two children as, upon winning a sweepstakes, they move into a state-of-the-art smart house with a digital family assistant known as “PAT” (Katey Sagal). She is an all-seeing AI assistant who observes the family to learn their behaviors, schedules, wants, and needs — and can even anticipate things they may need. She prepares healthy breakfasts at the mere mention, plays music videos on the walls to entertain the youngest child, and even absorbs messes on the carpet to help with clean-up. Without a maternal figure in the family unit, PAT starts to impose herself as their new mom, even taking on a physical presence as a 1950s housewife (also played by Sagal) projected into the house.

Directed by LeVar Burton (yes, that LeVar Burton), “Smart House” is remembered as one of the premiere DCOMs and is essentially an episode of “Black Mirror” for pre-teens, with PAT existing as the combination of June Cleaver and HAL 9000 of “2001: A Space Odyssey.” There’s even a moment when PAT is asked to unlock the door, to which she replies, “I’m sorry, I can’t do that,” just like HAL 9000. The sci-fi comedy for kids was way ahead of its time, and there have been multiple “smart house” movies in its wake. 2022 brought “MARGAUX,” a horror-thriller about college students who celebrate their last weekend as undergrads at a smart house with an advanced AI system named MARGAUX that wants to kill them off one by one.

Saying “AfrAId” is a rip-off of “MARGAUX” or “Smart House” might seem appropriate for millennials who grew up on the DCOM and grew up to watch the former, but “Smart House” wasn’t the first of its kind, either.

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