Writer: Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman, Guillermo del Toro (Screenplay) Alvin Schwartz, Marcus Dunstan, Patrick Melton (Novel/Story)
Starring: Zoe Margaret Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Dean Norris, Gil Bellows, Lorrain Toussaint, Austin Zajur
Plot: A group of teens face their fears in order to save their lives.
Tagline – Based on the iconic book series.
Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Goosebumps With Pure Horror
Story: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark starts with the backdrop of the Richard Nixon election, where high school students Stella (Colletti), Auggie (Rush) and Chuck (Zajur) look to get revenge on the school bully, which sees them stumble into stranger’s Ramon (Garza) car on Halloween which sees them head to a haunted house that has the story about the daughter of the family Sarah Bellows, writing scary stories for the local kids that soon went missing.
When Stella finds the story book she starts to investigate the stories, only to see the stories writing themselves with the locals starting to go missing, including her friends, Stella must investigate the myth about Sarah to stop the people she loves going missing.
Thoughts on Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Characters – Stella is an outsider at her school, she has always struggled with the people talking about her mother that disappeared, she is known for writing stories and enjoys a horror film, she wants to investigate the haunted house and is fascinated by what she finds, even though she must do anything to protect her friends once she learns the evil involved. Most of this film Stella feels like a young Velma from Scooby Doo too, which can be hard to shake without realizing. Ramon Morales is a stranger in town, the police don’t take to him too kindly, but Stella sees him as a nice guy, it is slightly confusing trying to figure out how old he is and why he is hanging out with the high schoolers, but he does have a reason to be on the run. Auggie and Chuck are the two banter filled friends of Stella that do make the smart decisions when it comes to dealing with horror moments. Roy Nicholls is the father of Stella that has been struggling with his wife’s disappearance, which has seen him become distant from Stella too.
Performances – Zoe Margaret Colletti is great in the leading role, we see her give us a vulnerable, but strong character that needs to break out of her shell. Michael Garza is strong through the film, playing the mysterious stranger, needing to keep a lot of his secrets close to his chest. Gabriel Rush and Austin Zajur have great chemistry and the friends, while Dean Norris doesn’t do anything wrong, but does feel wasted at times.
Story – The story here follows a group of teenagers that find a book that tells scary stories that come true with horrifying outcomes and they must figure out how to break the curse placed upon them. This does feel like a much darker version of a Goosebumps set of stories, with each horror figure being terrifying in their own right, which will lead to an event that you don’t see coming. We do have the investigation side of the film which does answer the questions about what is going on and why, which as always is entertaining to watch in a horror and with everything adding up nicely we will be left with a story that flows smoothly throughout.
Horror/Mystery – The horror in the film comes from the different creations of horror, for the most part the trailer does show us each of the creations involved in the film, the mystery plays into why the horror events are happening and just what Sarah is making this happen.
Settings – The film is set in a small town, where everybody knows everyone, which does play into the idea that the stories around the town can destroy reputations and feelings.
Special Effects – The effects in the film are used to make the horror creatures seem more terrifying where they look like practical effects too, which is a delight to see.
Final Thoughts – This is a fun horror film that is filled with scary figures that will fill you with dread as they are original creations and will surprise with what happens to the characters.
Overall: Fun Dark Horror.