Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

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Directed By: André Øvredal
Starring: Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Abrams, Dean Norris, Gil Bellows, Austin Zajur, Natalie Ganzhorn, Lorraine Toussaint, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: A-

On Halloween in 1968, friends Stella, Chuck, and Auggie meet mysterious drifter Ramón Morales while attempting to escape local bully, Tommy Milner. In an attempt to wait out his ire, Stella suggests they go to a local abandon home that is rumored to be haunted. There, Stella tells Ramón the local legend of Sarah Bellows, a rumored witch who would tell scary stories to local children, who would then go missing. Upon investigating the house, they find a secret room believed to be the one that Sarah’s family locked her away in. After Tommy finds the four, and locks them in the room along with Chuck’s sister, Ruth, Stella asks Sarah to tell her a story, unleashing a sinister force that takes its revenge on everyone in the house.

Like most people my age, I owned a copy of the book this movie is based on when I was younger. It freaked me out, and may possibly still be buried in the spot I put it all those years ago. This movie is surprisingly well-made, and has a decent amount of suspense for a teen horror/thriller. They do well in incorporating several of the short stories into the plot, and managed to make a cohesive storyline out of it all, which is no easy feat to do without an “episodic” storytelling format. They could very easily have had a group of kids sitting around a campfire or post-trick-or-treating candy pile telling stories to try and scare each other. The young actors playing the teens all do well with their roles and they all work well together. The older actors all do well in their roles as well, though they’re all secondary to Stella and her friends.

The special effects are all well done, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Horror fans and those who owned and/or loved the book growing up will likely enjoy this movie. There’s not a lot of gore, but the suspense is decent, which is something a lot of PG-13 movies forego in favor of jump scares and copious amounts of blood. The movie is incredibly rewatchable, and the storyline is easy enough to follow that, after the first watch, you don’t need to pay too much attention, and can use it as background noise if you so choose. Parents may want to watch it before letting young children see the movie.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is currently only available free to stream if you have Showtime, but it can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.
I’m always looking for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

October Faction

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Starring: Tamara Taylor, J.C. MacKenzie, Aurora Burghart, Gabriel Darku, Maxim Roy, Stephen McHattie, Megan Follows, Praneet Akilla et.al.
Rating: TV-MA
Network: Netflix
Grade: B

Upon learning of his father’s death, semi-retired monster hunter Fred Allen brings his family home for the funeral and to sort out the estate. While there, his teenage twins inadvertently awaken their own magical powers, as well as unleashing an angry witch hellbent on revenge. As the witch hunting them down nears and their children’s powers grow, Fred and his wife, Deloris, find they are unable to maintain their facade of normalcy, and reveal to the kids that they are part of a secret group charged with hunting down werewolves, vampires, witches, and other creatures called “Octobers.”

Another TV show/movie based on a comic book I haven’t read (which, technically, is all of them). This is a fairly entertaining show, though the early episodes are stronger than the later ones. The plot is on the line between original and overused, though there are a couple of semi-decent reveals over the course of the show. The actors seem to do well with their roles, and they seem to have decent chemistry and work well together. As of this review, the show has been canceled, and will not air a second season, so any lingering plot threads are not likely to be resolved.

What few special effects are used are done well, and any background filler isn’t noticeable.

As I’ve never read the comics, I can’t say whether or not fans of them will enjoy this series, though those who enjoy gothic/supernatural stories likely will. It’s a fairly easy watch, though some attention should be paid so certain plot points aren’t lost. There is some language, gore, and intensity, so parents may want to check it out before letting younger children watch.

October Faction is currently available to stream on Netflix, with no word as to whether or not it will be made available for purchase/rental.
I’m always looking for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

Charmed Season 1

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Starring: Melodie Diaz, Madeleine Mantock, Sarah Jeffery, Rupert Evans, Ser’Darius Blain, Ellen Tamaki, Nick Hargrove et.al.
Rating: TV-PG
Network: CW
Grade: B

After the sudden death of their mother, sisters Mel and Maggie discover that they not only have a half-sister, Macy, they never knew about, but that their mother was powerful witch. Shortly afterward, they are approached by Harry Greenwood, a coworker of their mothers who claims to be a Whitelighter sent to help them learn to harness their powers and keep them safe, informing them that they and their new sister are a prophsied trio of witches known as the Charmed Ones. With this new information, the three attempt to adjust to their new reality and fight the evils that seem determined to rid the world of them.

This reboot of the popular 90s television show isn’t actually that bad. While some plot points are lifted from the original series, for the most part they try their best to make the show their own and try to respect the memory of their source material. They also seem to be angling for a more expanded universe with the introduction and recurrence of different types of magical creatures, both good and evil. The actors playing the sisters all have decent chemistry and look like they could be related, and Rupert Evans does a good job of toeing the line between close friend and authority figure.

The special effects are fairly well done, and the background filler isn’t noticeable for the most part.

Die-hard fans of the original series may not enjoy the reboot, but those in the target audience (teens and YAs) should like it. I tuned in mostly out of a morbid curiosity and was pleasantly surprised by how much I didn’t hate it. The only real issue I had with it was the heavy-handed way they dealt with feminist and equality messages. I don’t mind having a feminist or equal rights moral to a story, but I do mind being whacked over the head with them in nearly every episode. It got a bit tiresome, and may turn some viewers off to an otherwise pleasantly not terrible show.

Charmed is currently available to stream on Netflix, and will be available to purchase at participating retailers as of October 1, 2019.