“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” follows in the footsteps of the books it draws from, making the horror movie genre accessible to children in a scary, yet entertaining, fashion.
The movie, an adaptation of stories pulled from Alvin Schwartz’s collection of children’s horror books of the same name, does a fine job at translating the shudder-inducing stories of childhood into an easy-to-process horror flick. Produced by Guillermo del Toro and directed by André Øvredal, “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” does justice to the iconic stories written by Schwartz over 30 years ago.
From a murderous scarecrow to a toe in a stew, “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” encompasses multiple stories from the original books and puts them together in a new package. The execution is done well and the movie flows throughout its different stories with general ease. Although a little rushed at times, the movie produces captivating horror scenes that are sure to delight any horror fan.
The main highlight of the film comes not from the stories it tells, but from the actors who bring the story to life. Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Zajur and Austin Abrams all put on superb performances, with Zajur bringing the comedic support the film needs to break from the seemingly endless horror.
While each story stood alone in Schwartz’s books, the movie adaptation makes every story the responsibility of one person.
After exploring a haunted house belonging to the elite Bellows family, the group discovers a book of horror stories written by the black sheep of the Bellows family, Sarah Bellows. Long thought of as insane, Sarah Bellows was banished to the basement of her home, where she was brutally tortured and shamed by her family for trying to expose their deadly secrets.
Writing became a safe haven for Sarah, and she does not take kindly to the protagonists stealing her stories in the beginning act. As the movie carries on the characters continue their everyday activities, unaware that Sarah has plans for new stories in the coming nights. Sarah writes stories in blood for four nights straight, each time targeting a new member of the group or someone they know well.
The horror scenes are well shot, with tons of suspense and frightening imagery to send the whole theater out of their seats. Jump scares a pretty prevalent throughout the movie. Each story Sarah writes usually dwells on the fears of the protagonists. Chuck’s come in the form of an old lady and a Doberman in a red room, staring at him as he sits hiding in a closet. August’s story finds a decrepit zombie searching for her toe, which August unknowingly eats.
The stories fit together well and the use of Sarah Bellows’ story to connect them all together was a clever way of making the film a cohesive work. Through its slightly campy special effects and clever dialogue, “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” is a worthy tribute to the stories that have terrified children and adults alike for decades.