Title: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Release Date: August 9, 2019
Director: Andre Ovredal
Starring: Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Abrams, Dean Norris, Gil Bellows, and Lorraine Toussaint
Review: This is a very nostalgic weekend at the movies for people in my generation. We have two big screen adaptations of things that were wildly popular when we were kids. Of course, that’s where the similarities end. I don’t have the most storied history with Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. I was a wimpy child and these books were far too scary for me. Of course, I did have friends who loved them and rejoiced in reading them out loud at sleepovers. So, I’ve heard a couple of these stories. And they scarred me for life. Does this movie live up to that reputation? Surprisingly, yes. I feel like this movie is going to scar a lot of children. And I’m excited for that.
The main thing Scary Stories has going for it is the visuals. If you’ve ever flipped through any of the books, you’ll remember that the illustrations were creepy as hell. This translates very well to the big screen. Ovredal and Del Toro clearly made that a priority. The designs of the Scarecrow and the Pale Lady especially will be seared into my mind forever. I could geek out over their look all night.
This movie is also legit scary at times. I expected it to be more child friendly than it is. But they really stretched the limits of what you can do with a PG-13. I’ve actually seen R rated horror that’s not as intense as the Toe Monster scene. From the sounds I heard, I’m pretty sure most of the audience I was with agrees. I’m sure there are going to be a lot of kids who are talked into going to see this by they’re friends and they’re not going to be able to sleep for weeks. But, like I said, that lives up to the books and I’m glad the legacy is continuing. Being scared is important. It helps you grow up.
I also thought the structure to this movie was really good. It revolves around a ghost who uses these stories to kill her victims. I’m not sure if that was ever referenced in the books. I don’t think so, but I’m not super well versed in that either. Either way, I thought it was a good way to tie together these scenes that otherwise would have to be told anthology style. This way you really get to know and care about the characters from story to story.
My only criticism is that I feel like they blew all of their super scary stuff in the first half of the movie. The first four stories are all terrifying in their own right, each with different genres of horror explored. But, unfortunately, the last two monsters just weren’t very scary. You see too much of one and the other doesn’t do much. Maybe it’s subjective. Maybe what monster scared you the most depends on what typed of horror film gets under your skin. My audience seemed to agree with me though. Toe Monster; terrifying. Jangly Man; Not so much.
I hope this does well. Like I said, it’s nice to see the legacy of these books live on. And, I’d love to see more of these stories adapted. I’m not sure how that’d work plotwise, but I’m sure they could figure something out.
TL;DR: This movie is surprisingly scary, the creature designs are really good, and how they tied everything together works well.
Score: Four Stars (I liked it.)