André Øvredal and Guillermo del Toro work together to craft a live-action screenplay of the novel series that haunted every kid’s nightmares. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a set of books written in 1981 by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammel, featuring collections of horror stories written for children.
Most children have encountered this book series at least once, either on the shelf of the school library or gathered around in a dim bedroom with an older cousin on Halloween night. Finally, after forty years, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark has made it on the big screen and it’s something you don’t want to miss.
The scene is set on Halloween night of 1968; you can smell the autumn leaves in the town of Mill Valley as three friends, Stella (Zoe Margaret Colletti), Auggie (Gabriel Rush) and Chuck (Austin Zajur) prepare to get sweet revenge on Tommy Milner (Austin Abrams), the school bully.
The film delves quickly into action, introducing Roman (Michael Garza), a mysterious teenager travelling through Mill Valley. The audience is swept up into the dark past of Mill Valley when the group of teenagers explore the haunted house of the Bellows family and uncover the twisted history of a hidden daughter they kept locked away in a basement chamber.
The movie is fun to watch, but takes a sudden, sinister turn as Stella uncovers that the urban legend of Sara Bellows may have some truth to it. You can feel the raw, desperation of the characters in their skilled acting. Despite working together to solve the mystery of Sara Bellows, each character has their own motivations and aspirations. Unlike many other horror movies, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark tries to veer away from the obvious character troupes.
Rather than loads of gore, the film plays on the very human fears of being trapped, chased and of course, covered in spiders. The characters that haunted us when we were kids in the Scary Stories novels are brought to the screen beautifully in all of their grotesque glamour. Some of the most iconic stories from the series such as “Harold” and “The Red Spot” are blended flawlessly into a larger, more sinister plotline.
This movie is aesthetically pleasing, with beautiful wardrobes and a classic, 60’s suburban set; the plot moves swiftly and there is never a dull moment while watching. The blend of thriller and comedy makes this an awesome sit down movie to enjoy with friends before Halloween, while this isn’t a kids movie, it isn’t mature either and is rated 14+.
My personal rating: 4.5/5, this movie was enjoyable to watch and I’ll probably watch it again before Halloween.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is in theatres now.
Featured Image Via IndieWire