‘Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark’ is directed by André Øvredal and is based on the 3 children’s horror novels written by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell. The film is centered around a group of kids that uncover a haunted house on Halloween. After they discover a book belonging to one of the people who died in the house, the kids discover they are now being haunted everywhere they go, and the scary stories told in said book are becoming real, in this PG-13 horror film you are treated to multiple visually disturbing treats, however, lose the heart of the original books in the end.
‘Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark’ holds a very special place in my childhood. As an ‘Elder Millennial’, I remember fondly reading the books and acting out every line and staring at the door in the night terrified that one of the illustrations would barge in and murder me in some fashion. The books truly were terrifying to me as a kid and even after reading the books again, the art evokes so much terror I absolutely love them. With this homage to the books, I feel while maybe not for the older more seasoned horror crowd, this is still a decent scare-fest if you don’t look too closely at the story.
The visuals reflect what you see in the books with a surprising amount of precision. I loved all the visuals in the film and the scary creepy monsters all looked great. The practical and CGI effects blended together pretty well, and I really appreciated the attention to detail with getting each illustration from the book as accurate as possible. The acting from all the kids was pretty good, although their characters weren’t really expanded on super well, and that is my main issue with the film.
It becomes very clear that the story of this film is incredibly weak. Its main drive is to get you from scare to scare, and not have you focus too much on the characters motivations and the plot. This is the first film to implement what I am now calling the ‘Stranger Things Formula’, where a group of young adults is thrown in a supernatural situation and you are supposed to connect to the groups dynamic together. The characters are all the same, the smart mouth, the shy one, the reluctant leader, and the always stranger 1 girl to all guys rule these films seem to follow. The issue is the characters in this film are just copies of the same types of characters we know already, but not developed well enough to leave a lasting impression. The things you leave the theater talking about are the scares, not the characters.
Also, they do include a lot of the hits from the 3 books they adapted, but I couldn’t help but wish for this to be broken up into a story an episode, maybe there will be that chance on a streaming network someday, that way the stories of each episode and really elevate the source material like a horror ‘Twilight Zone’.
Overall though this is a good adaptation of the fears you may have had growing up, and introduces them to a new generation and hopefully will inspire them to read the books. The scares are well done, the visuals are great. Go check this one out and let me know what you thought!
I’m giving ‘Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark’ a 6.5/10