Based off a series of short stories written by Alvin Schwartz of the same name, Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark is a horror film that works with suspense and environment rather than gore and shock. It’s a refreshing story that has the natural set-up of teens in danger and the obvious involvement of Guillermo Del Toro only adds an extra punch to a quick-paced movie with an unrelenting atmosphere of eeriness.

There are two scenes that really emulate how the tone of Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark is more than just a footnote.

Chuck, played by Austin Zajur, is the first person to see the horrors that the Bellows House…houses. He is playing a game of haunted hide-and-go-seek with his friend Auggie when he sees an elder women and her damn creep dog. It’s only through a slit in the door, but the glimpse and slight head turn does more to creep the audience out then any sort of blood or jump scare would. Slow, deliberate and suspenseful; that tenor is perfect.

Queue up Chuck again for the best vignette of the movie. The “red room” suffocation that transpires doesn’t have operatic screams or any typical grotesque images. Instead, it’s lighting, quick camera movements, a hideously women and a wonderful sense of a maze-like endlessness where there is no dead end.

Chuck, played by Austin Zajur, in the Red Room

This is director’s André Øvredal best achievement in Scary Scores To Tell In The Dark. The audience is suckered into thinking he is safe, until the saturation switches and the audience can’t help but be sucked into the terror.

The entirety of Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark sparks from the Bellows house and the superstition surrounding it and the former inhabitants. Sarah Bellows is the main culprit of the haunting rumors, an it’s the quartet of the aforementioned Chuck and Auggie, alongside Stella and Ramón that must work through the terrors. There are also the tertiary characters of Ruth, Tommy and Chief Turner, but it’s the group of friends that battle the frights.

Stella and Ramón, played by Zoe Margaret Colletti and Michael Garza

All of the acting is solid with some over-stigmatized parts in the classic high-school bully, over-compensating cop and over-talkative friend. It fits into the older setting of the movie, which latches itself to the Vietnam war era.

The proximity of the town, the talking via walkie-talkies, the ability to bike anywhere or take a short drive; all of it fits into the realm of fond childhood memories for a generation that may have read Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark in their childhood.

Having not read Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark myself, that does not affect the enjoy-ability in the viewing experience. It goes without saying that there are a ton Easter eggs buried in the movie, whether it be hinting at titles to other stories from the literature, or monsters not touched on directly.

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark is the best horror movie this year since Us. It isn’t as obtuse with its shock value as Jordan Peele’s weave of violence of social class commentary, but this visual representation of scary child stories will leave a shadow on the walls falling you out the theater.

Stanko Rating: B

“Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark” IMDB
“Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark” Rotten Tomatoes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s