Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (2019) Review

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.

My Opinion:

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

House At The End Of The Street (2012) Review

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House At The End Of The Street (2012)

Directed by Mark Tonderai

Starring:
Jennifer Lawrence
Max Thieriot
Gil Bellows
Elisabeth Shue
Eva Link
Nolan Gerard Funk
Allie MacDonald

Running time: 101 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film’s plot revolves around a teenage girl named Elissa who, along with her newly divorced mother Sarah, moves to a new neighborhood only to discover that the house at the end of the street was the site of a gruesome double murder committed by a girl named Carrie Anne who disappeared without a trace. Elissa then starts a relationship with Carrie Anne’s brother Ryan, who now lives in the same house.

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My Opinion:

Well, this was a load of shit. That was easy! Review over. 😉

Okay – I suppose it’s not the absolute worst “PG-13 horror” EVER but when you’re old like me & you’ve seen a million movies, you like to see something that feels at least somewhat original. The “surprise” ending was soooo NOT surprising – it’s been done before and done much better. Honestly, the ending is just plain stupid and almost felt like an insult to the audience. However, maybe I’m just too old & bitter. A young teen who hasn’t watched many movies like this may like it okay and not say “Really?! Oh, fuck off!” to the screen at the end. (Yes, I did tell this movie to fuck off)

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I knew this was meant to be pretty bad but I figured I’d check it out anyway as I like Jennifer Lawrence okay and have loved Elisabeth Shue since my teenage obsession with Adventures In Babysitting. I know Shue has been in some dodgy shit in recent years but what’s Lawrence doing in this?? Well, both actresses do the best they can with the material, I guess. Lawrence’s character of course doesn’t listen to her mother’s warnings and keeps hanging out with Ryan, the son of the murdered couple who used to live next door (and possible psychopath??? who knows! and who the fuck cares!). This is just one of those movies where the characters do stupid things that annoy you. I was bored. I was only half paying attention at the end and ended up thoroughly confused over a couple of things but couldn’t be arsed to rewind and rewatch. So I filled in the gaps reading Wikipedia. Yeah, I didn’t miss much – the story was still shit!

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Summary:

This sucks. A boring and thoroughly unoriginal example of PG-13 horror BLANDNESS. Ugh. I don’t recommend this unless you’ve never ever watched another movie in your life. If this is the first movie you ever watch, maybe you won’t be able to guess what will happen pretty much every step of the way. However, if you’ve never ever watched a movie before, it would make me really sad if you started with this one! So, yeah – I guess I don’t actually recommend this to anyone.

My Rating: 4/10

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**I saw this great YouTube video recently called “WTF Happened To PG-13?” that I thought would be good to share now. I know I’ve said before that I’m a wuss on extreme violence and am sometimes happier with my “PG-13” horror films. However, I hate how the rating is too often used just for BAD teenage horror and often also as an excuse to release some “uncut” version later on DVD. The video shows how PG-13 used to push the boundaries of the PG rating and nowadays, instead, it’s used water down R-rated films and turn them into “PG-13 Blandness” like this. Anyway – it’s an interesting video if you want to check it out. 🙂

CPD Classics: The Shawshank Redemption (1994) Review

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The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Directed by Frank Darabont

Based on Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King

Starring:
Tim Robbins
Morgan Freeman
Bob Gunton
William Sadler
Clancy Brown
Gil Bellows
Mark Rolston
James Whitmore
Jeffrey DeMunn

Music by Thomas Newman

Running time: 142 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Andy Dufresne is a banker sent to Shawshank State Prison after being convicted of murdering his wife and her lover. While there, be becomes friends with fellow inmate Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding. Through years of hardship, Andy maintains his innocence and never gives up hope.

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Why It’s A CPD Classic:

First off, I’ll point out that this is in the IMDB Top 250 so I figured it would be a good one to do today to help kick off all the guest IMDB Top 250 reviews that I’ll start posting next week (More about that after the review). And what a place to start! The Shawshank Redemption takes the number one spot, having been voted as the best movie of all-time by IMDB users. So why is that….?

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I’m a Shawshank lover. Yep – I’m one of those mainstream masses who is perfectly happy to see Shawshank at number one above the likes of The Godfather and Citizen Kane. Yep – it’s a “feel good” movie. Yep – it may sometimes try a little too hard to be a “feel good” movie. You know what? I don’t care. Because this movie DOES make me feel good! And there’s nothing wrong with that. And most importantly, to me, it has these amazing feel good moments yet it doesn’t feel contrived. Most of us film lovers can see right through that. If Shawshank was guilty of that, it wouldn’t have stayed in the number one spot for all these years. It tells a pretty straight forward story in a straight forward way. I suppose thanks can go to Stephen King for that, my very favorite author and whose adapted works will be featuring more than just this once in my CPD Classics series.

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But clearly the combination of Stephen King & Frank Darabont just WORKS. The Green Mile is also absolutely fantastic and I think The Mist is a great underrated film. Oh, and I have to mention a third very important element: Thomas Newman. I ADORE so many Thomas Newman scores. He’s amazing & doesn’t quite seem to get the credit he deserves. Now isn’t the time to go into him, though, as I think I should devote an entire post to him someday.

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I don’t know if I need to go into any detail with this review. I would assume that most everyone has seen this movie by now and, if not, I think it’s extremely well known what happens in it anyway. I love this film and I’m clearly not alone in feeling this way, although I rarely see it mentioned amongst bloggers here so I’d love to know everyone’s thoughts on this one in the comments below. Is it too mainstream for the blogging crowd? Too obvious & “feel good”? Am I now going to be considered uncool and you’ll all run me out of (WordPress) town?

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I think there are a lot of things that make The Shawshank Redemption such a widely loved film and the movie just gets so many things “right” that they all combine to give us something spectacular: Feel good moments like the beer & opera scenes (which never fail to move me no matter how many times I watch this movie). Andy & Red’s friendship. The lesser characters such as Brooks & Heywood (and the heartbreakingly beautiful “Brooks Was Here” theme from Thomas Newman). Seeing the posters on the wall change, showing the passage of time. Alexandre Dumbass. The pet bird. Rita Hayworth. And, of course, the overall message of hope.

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More than anything, though, I think it’s Stephen King’s story and Darabont’s ability to give us scenes of pure beauty in a movie based someplace as awful as a prison, along with Thomas Newman’s amazing score plus superb narration from the always lovely-to-listen-to voice of Morgan Freeman which may all be most to thank for making The Shawshank Redemption as near to perfection as I think any film could ever really get. That’s why The Shawshank Redemption is a CPD Classic.

My Rating: 10/10

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(That’s the first 10 I’ve given on my site)

IMDB Top 250 Guest Reviews: Thanks once again to all who signed up to help me finish my IMDB Top 250 Challenge by doing guest reviews. I’m still amazed by the huge response and can’t believe I’ve already received some reviews! So I’ll be starting to post them next week (I’ll e-mail you to let you know when yours will be posted). There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone else would like to join in! You can find a list with the remaining movies HERE.

JOHN HUGHES BLOGATHON: Also, a quick reminder that March is when I’ll be having the John Hughes blogathon (so the Top 250 thing will go on hold for a month). I’ve had several reviews so far – thank you everyone! I’d like to receive the rest by the end of this month at the latest so that I can get them all scheduled & let you know when yours will be posted. Reviews can be e-mailed to tableninemutant at hotmail dot com. AND – I’d be happy for anyone to still join!!! You can do any film you want. See more details HERE. 🙂