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.
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!