'Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark' Review
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a 2019 horror film directed by André Øvredal, based on the children's book series of the same name by Alvin Schwartz. The screenplay was adapted by Dan and Kevin Hageman, from a screen story by producer Guillermo del Toro, Patrick Melton, and Marcus Dunstan. The film, an international co-production of the United States and Canada, stars Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Abrams, Dean Norris, Gil Bellows, and Lorraine Toussaint.
It's 1968 in America. Change is blowing in the wind...but seemingly far removed from the unrest in the cities is the small town of Mill Valley where, for generations, the shadow of the Bellows family has loomed large. It is in their mansion on the edge of town that Sarah, a young girl with horrible secrets, turned her tortured life into a series of scary stories written in a book that has transcended time, stories that have a way of becoming all too real for a group of teenagers who discover Sarah's terrifying tome.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was a film I was extremely excited for. I'm unfamiliar with the book series, but I love horror. The film was also produced by Guillermo del Toro, which is a huge plus.
I thought Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was a very good and fun, if not flawed, PG-13 horror film.
This wasn't the most terrifying horror film I've seen. I would consider it more of a thriller, but in terms of thrills, suspense, and tension, it was phenomenal. I loved the way director André Øvredal was able to perfectly build tension in his scenes. My heart was pounding throughout a large portion of this film. Some of the scenes and jump scares were predictable, but they were so well crafted that I still really enjoyed watching them.
The monsters were also really well done. Guillermo Del Toro has become a master of monsters and this film was no different. I don't know how much CGI was used, but it all looked really good and blended well with the practical effects and makeup.
One problem I did have was the fact that I didn't love most of the characters. After watching the film, I realized that I didn't really care for a lot of them. One character that got a lot of development was the main ghost antagonist. I really respect them for doing that, and she ended up being my favorite character. The rest of the characters aren't bad, but there just wasn't enough depth there to feel that emotionally connected. They did try to add depth to some of the characters, and they were very entertaining to watch, so you do feel something while in the moment.
The film did this thing were it'll have random cuts and transitions that felt a little clunky. One scene would show something, but then it'll instantly cut to something totally different. It also kinda felt like the filmmakers didn't really want the add certain details but knew it was important to the story, so they just added a quick three-second scene.
Another thing was that the story wasn't particularly great, and it did have a few cliches. They had certain characters that you already knew how their story was going to end, like the bully and disbeliever, but I think this worked out pretty well for the film.
Those were my only real problems with the film. Overall, I really liked it. I found it to be pretty engaging throughout. It also had a very creepy atmosphere aided by solid cinematography. I thought director André Øvredal did a great job with the horror scenes. Overall, I just thought it was a fun little PG-13 horror film.
I thought the acting was solid. The lead actress, Zoe Colletti, was really good, especially in the last horror sequence.
The actors that played the teens really held the film together. Chemistry wise, they were great together, and I thought they had really good comedic timing. Everyone else did a really good job.
The story wasn't the best, but for this film, it worked.
The film really didn't waste any time setting the story into motion, but after that, everything gets a little basic. They do the whole investigation thing in between every kill, and that's what the core of the plot is. Instead of using Google, they just read a lot of books. Most of it was to build up Sarah's character, which I liked, but it rarely moved the story forward.
The didn't do anything particularly new. Again, it's not bad, but it does make a lot of the film a little predictable.
Overall, I did enjoy the film for what it was.
It was very well crafted, with excellent directing and solid cinematography. Again, the film wasn't that scary, but in terms of a thriller, I thought it was really good. The tension and suspense was handled very well. Overall, I thought this was just a very enjoyable horror film.
© 2019 Royce Proctor