Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a film adaptation of a famous book of short horror stories for children. Director Andre Ovredal brings to life these grisly, creepy illustrations with clear influence from Guillermo Del Toro, each monster literally looking like they have been pulled from the book itself.
The first act of this movie had me excited simply from the way it looked. The setting, the colours, the Stranger Things/IT vibes and how the story unfolded excited me to be watching a horror that wasn’t a gloomy mainstream horror cliche. The scares probably weren’t as strong as they could have been and granted there were a few jump scares but the film successfully delivers an unsettling atmosphere and some terrific visual work. Aesthetically, it’s amazing for a horror. A small town in autumn, a seasonal colour pallete, cornfields and scarecrows, bullies in Jock jackets and FREAKY looking monsters. Some CGI visual effects could’ve been better and I probably would have preferred for the jangly man to have had more practical effects but overall the narrative flows well and the whole look of the film is very attractive so the poor cgi wasn’t too distracting.
Scary Stories is centered around a group of funny, outcast kids that you really end up caring for and rooting for (kind of a Stranger Things vibe). What made this a good horror was it gave us good reason to be invested in the characters and genuinely not want them to get hurt. Zoe Margaret Colletti did a stand out job of grounding her character Stella and making it seem like she’s bottled up a lot of hurt. We’re shown visually from the get go of who these characters are, like first being introduced to Stella in her room, where she has lots of horror posters and the fact the kids are dressing up to go trick or treeting despite being too old. We’re given that little insight to their lives which makes it easier through the (horrifying) journey with them, which was really something to appreciate.
Despite it’s 15 rating, this movie isn’t just for kids. I was really impressed with how genuinely creepy the movie was, with the scares built very well, and the fantastic sense of dread every time a story is being written as you knew they weren’t afraid to show its audience that horrible things are going to come along with it.
The horror imagery is really heightened with the terryfying realism of the monsters. With little CGI (apart from The Jangly Man), Harold the Scarecrow, The Toe Monster and The Pale Lady look like they could be real, especially in the minds of young viewers.
Would All Ages Enjoy?
Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark is a fun, solid summer flick that I can definitely see myself returning to come Halloween. It didn’t stay in my mind falling asleep like most scary movies do, but it’s target audience is children, the same audience of those that would have read the books. It’s still scarier than most family friendly horrors and is genuinely enjoyable.