scary stories to tell in the dark
DIRECTOR: AndrE Øvredal (troll hunter, the autopsy of jane doe)
STARRING: zoe margaret colletti, michael garza, gabriel rush, and austin abrams
REVIEWER: purdie picot
A group of teens face their fears in order to save their lives.
1968 America, Nixon was running for president, the Vietnam war was recruiting and teenagers had to make their own kind of fun. Beating up scarecrows, picking on nerds, plotting revenge against bullies, or breaking into a haunted house and stealing a book of scary stories on the scariest night of the year - Halloween.
Stella and her two friends, Auggie and Chuck evade Tommy the bully and take new-to-town Ramone to the Bellow’s family home - long abandoned and their small town’s scariest destination for a Halloween night explore. Tommy and his girlfriend Ruthie (who also happens to be Chuck’s older sister) follow them into the house. Which marks them all to be scared by Sarah Bellows - the shameful secret of the Bellows family - whose stories scared children, possibly to death. New stories appear in the book, about each of these teens and their deepest fears.
Each teen is a typical stereotype, with the nerd, princess, bully etc, and the actors give each of their characters a bit of believable depth. Playing with stereotypes means less time for setup and more time to develop, and establish how each character will be scared. Each of the scares are extremely well done. You can see Guillermo del Toro’s producing influence on the horrific creatures. Using practical effects has an unnerving effect, the visual highly suggests what the feel of the scares are - which is what works, using a sense that isn’t usually affected by film. I am particularly bothered by things under skin - which is why ‘The Red Spot’ story might have icked me out the most.
Each story is unique in the way that something is going to scare you, or maybe everything will. Either way you’ll have some fuel for your next campfire storytelling session. The stories aren’t disjointed though, they are linked through the book which leads into a more traditional ghost story, that alongside the mysteries and secrets of the Bellows which have to be solved.
I enjoyed Zoe Colletti as Stella, she has a grit and independence which is more akin to a current generation - she is headstrong and confident - which is what leads the group into the danger of course, but she sets out to solve the problem.
The nostalgia factor might be a little bit forced in with constant updates of newscasts, and timely references. But this might just be a way around all the modern ways of solving horror films - things like mobiles and CCTV, or even the internet would easily solve a lot of the obstacles the characters come to face. Instead they have to struggle through without the instant gratification of Google, which makes each night with a new scary story come even faster.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark will have you feeling thrilled to keep the lights on.