We went and saw Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and it was average with a smile.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Trailer
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Synopsis
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a movie about four stereotypical kids (Stella (Zoe Margaret Colletti), Ramon (Michael Garza), Auggie (Gabriel Rush), and Chuck (Austin Zajur))who enter a haunted house on Halloween and find a book that has more scary stories than they bargained for! As the teens fight bullies and work their way through early November, they begin to realize that the book they took from the house is haunted, and the spirit that haunts it has a penchant for writing scary stories about the teens and their acquaintances that always come true.
As the teens wrestle with teen hood and their own demons, they are forced to come to terms with the reality that this book and the woman who wrote it are trying to kill them in scary story ways. There are lots of chases, jumpscares, racist cops, and nostalgic feels to be had in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. It even culminates in exactly the way you might think it would, which we will mention in the spoilers section.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a movie loosely based around the 1981 book of short stories of the same name, which spawned two other books. More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (1984), and Scary Stories 3: More Tales To Chill Your Bones (1991).
All three books are available for purchase on Amazon for a pretty good steal, and they still hold up.
Want To See Short Stories Done Right? Creepshow Review!
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Review
The movie takes some of the stories and ideas from the books and throws them together into a mashup of jumpscares and dark sets. The screenplay was adapted from a screen story written by Guillermo del Toro and rewritten by Dan Hageman and Kevin Hageman, who, I feel may have done it less service than del Toro might have.
While Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark wasn’t terrible, it was only a little bit more interesting than average. The plot made sense, the acting was on point, the production was pretty good. It’s nothing to write home about, and the payoffs are completely underwhelming. The nostalgia was nice, but isn’t it always? Maybe that’s what makes these nostalgia grabs so offensive, it works every time, and it’s so low effort – but I guess you could say the same thing about jumpscares, and I love those.
Score for Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Wanna See a Fun Summer Blockbuster? Check Out Our Review of The Meg!
Spoilers for Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
The movie starts with a bully who says, “Let’s go scare some kiddies tonight, guys!” This is, perhaps, the goofiest line I can think of and teed off the movie well.
The main bully, Tommy (Austin Abrams), is the least assuming bully on the planet, small in stature, slight of build, fair of complexion, and is constantly drunk and rattling off goofy lines like this. It’s a joy to behold, and one of those touches that makes it goofy and real at the same time.
Dean Norris is the only cast member you might recognize in this movie, and he is a great actor, who plays the main character’s (Stella) dad. The only problem with this is anytime I see Dean Norris I just think, “They’re not rocks, they’re minerals, Marie!” If you play the main detective in Breaking Bad, you ARE the main detective from Breaking Bad. Which makes me feel sorry for Dean, but at the same time, “Jizzus Christ, Marie!”
There are a few different spooks going on in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, so I will try to lay them out for you in a way that doesn’t ramble as much as the movie does. Keep in mind; this is the spoilers section:
Harold the Scarecrow
Harold is the fattest, ugliest, most desiccated corpse of a scarecrow I have ever seen in my life. I’m not sure, but Harold may be the dead body of Tommy’s (the bully) stepdad, whom Tommy hated very much. There is no backstory here; there is only Tommy beating Harold constantly with a bat and beer bottles to impress his friends? Harold has his revenge on Tommy by turning the cornfield into an endless maze and stabbing Tommy with a pitchfork that gives Tommy straw man syndrome. The effects of straw man syndrome include coughing up hay, having hay come out of your fingers, and hay fever. If not cured, the patient will become a scarecrow.
Sarah Bellows, author of the Scary Stories Book
Sarah was part of the Bellows family, the founding family of Mill Valley, PA. She was also a little different, and therefore the shame of her family, tortured and experimented on by her brothers, left in a dark room and generally mistreated. She wrote and haunted the book that our protagonists found and causes all of the mischief and murders in the movie.
The Toe Lady
The Toe Lady is basically a corpse who had some of her body parts inserted into Auggies chili/stew by Sarah Bellows writing. As Auggie takes a bite, he notices what he is chewing on is the big toe of the Toe Lady. Auggies is pulled under his bed by the Toe Lady and never seen again.
The Red Spot
Chuck’s sister finds what looks like a pimple on her cheek before a date with Tommy, the jerk. A few days later, right before she is going on at a school play, she attempts to fiddle with it, and spiders come gushing out of her face. The others react quickly enough that she manages only to be placed in a mental hospital instead of winding up dead.
The Red Room
When the teens decide to find out more about Sarah bellows to hopefully save their skin, it’s Chuck’s turn to go. Chuck finds himself in a lockdown situation in the insane asylum. A strange-looking girl who looks and acts like something straight out of a Studio Ghibli movie walks at him down long corridors. Everywhere he turns, she is there. Four of her converge on him until one of the girls envelops him in her crazy folds.
The Jangly Man
The heavy hitter of this movie is the body horror fiend known as The Jangly Man. Senior Jangles, as he likes to be called is a contorting, crunching, body morphing, horror that possesses the ability to fall apart limb from limb and reconfigure himself at will. This guy is after Ramon, and boy is he spoopy.
In the end, the two remaining teens, Stella and Ramon manage to make it out thanks to Stella’s quick thinking. She manages to convince Sarah’s ghost that she will write her story for her. Oh yeah, Stella’s a writer… So there’s that.
While Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark wasn’t bad, it wasn’t great. It was pretty by the books. Its the movie you would write if you were tasked with writing a movie based on the book, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. If that sounds like fun to you, give it a whirl, otherwise meh.