Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

scary stories to tell in the dark poster 2019 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good looking creatures

Story is a bit weak

Movie Info

Movie Name: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Studio: CBS Films

Genre(s): Horror

Release Date(s): August 9, 2019

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

scary stories to tell in the dark zoe colletti michael garza gabriel rush austin zajur

Do you want to hear a story?

Stella (Zoe Colletti), Auggie (Gabriel Rush), and Chuck (Austin Zajur) head out for their Halloween tradition in Mill Valley, Pennsylvania in 1968. Seeking revenge on a bully named Tommy Milner (Austin Abrams), the trio meets Ramón Morales (Michael Garza) who helps them, and Ramón is about to learn that Mill Valley hides a secret in the ghost story of the town founders the Bellows. Stella’s discovery of Sarah Bellows’ book of scary stories leads to horrors being unleashed. Now, the clock is ticking as Stella and her friends must find the secret to Sarah Bellow’s stories before they all become victims.

Directed by André Øvredal, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a horror thriller. The movie adapts tales from Alvin Schwartz’s books Scary Stories to tell in the Dark (1981), More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (1984), and Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones (1991). The film was met with mixed reviews and a relatively strong box office return.

scary stories to tell in the dark pale lady

At least she has a pleasant smile

I would have loved the book Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, but I never read it as a kid. Instead, I read lots of other ghost stories and takes of monsters and creatures, but since the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark stories are rather generic amalgams of popular tales, this movie feels familiar even without having read the book.

The problem with the movie is the story. It has to find a way to tell a lot of stories, and since it isn’t an anthology film, the movie needs a story that links the small stories together. The story linking the tales is a bit weak. The movie tries to give the characters depth, but they don’t seem that interesting and rather cliché. This combines with the stories and monsters which feel almost forced upon a teen-drama mystery surrounding Sarah Bellows.

The cast has potential, but since the story is less than awe inspiring, it is hard to tell if they are good or bad. No one is atrocious in their acting, but no one really excels either. Zoe Colletti plays the lead character with Michael Garza as her male lead co-star and it is nice to see more non-traditional leads in a film. Dean Norris (of Breaking Bad) feels underused as Zoe Colletti’s father…but there always could be a sequel.

scary stories to tell in the dark jangly man

The Jangly-Man is coming for you!

The movie’s big draw is the monsters presented in the film and they are well done. There is a classic scarecrow monster and the horror of a spider’s egg hatching under the skin, but the two impressive characters are the Jangly-Man and the Pale Woman. As mentioned above, these characters feel a bit shoehorned into the plot and since there isn’t much background on the characters within the books, they almost feel like random occurrences rather than full-fledged monsters.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was a bit of a disappointment. It has a ton of potential for scares and Guillermo del Toro’s help in producing and crafting the story didn’t full develop. I wanted to like the movie more than I did, and I wanted it to really make the hairs on my neck stand up like a good ghost story…but the “dark” wasn’t dark enough and the horror just wasn’t as fun as it could have been.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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