Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (2019)
Directed by André Øvredal
Story by Guillermo del Toro, Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan
Based on Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Starring: Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Zajur, Natalie Ganzhorn, Austin Abrams, Dean Norris, Gil Bellows, Lorraine Toussaint
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A group of teens face their fears in order to save their lives.
I went into this film with zero knowledge of the short story collections it’s based on. How in the hell did I not know about scary books published during my childhood and aimed specifically at “middle school kids”?! I was a kid obsessed with weird and/or scary stories! My favorite childhood TV shows were the original The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents! I loved Christopher Pike and, when a bit older, Stephen King (still do)! I’d have loved Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark!!
Well, this movie was a pleasant surprise. Obviously, I’m reviewing this as someone who’s not read the source material so I don’t know how fans feel or how faithful this adaptation is. But I thought it was a very effective and surprisingly scary movie aimed at pre to mid teens. Hell – I don’t know the US rating but it’s a 15 in the U.K., meaning you have to be 15 to be allowed to see it. There’s actually no gore or anything like that – the only warning was “prolonged & intense scenes of horror” (or something along those lines). So to get a 15 rating simply for that does show that it’s quite intense for the slightly younger audience it’s aimed at. I do wonder how people feel about it as not many horror films are aimed at the pre to mid teen market. It’ll be too “tame” for hardcore horror fans but far too intense for younger people expecting a Goosebumps type of film. Personally, I enjoyed the hell out of it. I liked the “horror middle ground”. We need to get more kids hooked on scary stories these days!
I also really enjoyed the setting (1968 small town America) and the fact that the movie started with Donovan’s fantastic Season Of The Witch – That song is bloody awesome. It’s also set at Halloween, which is always good fun for a scary film. The characters were likeable teens and the main girl, played by Zoe Colletti, was especially good. It’s of course sort of a horror anthology, with each character being affected by a different story. This was very entertaining but I’ve always been a big fan of horror anthologies. The separate stories were also linked to one overall story/mystery that was also quite good.
Honestly, I have zero complaints about this movie and I’m normally extremely picky about horror films. If you watch it, just bear in mind that it’s aimed at teens so don’t judge it compared to adult horrors. Oh, I also loved that it used practical effects (as far as I’m aware?). I absolutely hate dodgy looking CGI in horror movies and the terribly cheesy CGI in It Chapter Two was my biggest (but only) complaint about that movie. It’s just pretty bad when a “horror movie for kids” is one of the better horror films we’ve had recently. I think I’m going to go read all the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books now…
My Rating: 7/10