The scary film is released in keeping with Halloween SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK a horror short story collection with a narrative superstructure in the cinemas that is not only pretty scary, but also puts you in a really good mood. We reveal more about this in our review.
Chuck (Austin Zajur) doesn’t yet know what’s haunting him.
The plot summary
Halloween in the 1960s: A group of teenagers accidentally discover a book by the legendary Sarah Bellows (Kathleen Pollard) in a half-dilapidated property. What the kids don’t know is that the nasty writer had once cursed the book to take revenge on her parents for her imprisonment in these walls. The stories it contains, written in blood about scarecrows that kill people, the terrifying Jingly Man or spiders that lay their eggs in people’s heads, occur a little later in the reality of those who read the book. If only Stella (Zoe Margaret Colletti) and her friends had never gotten their hands on it, now they have to do everything they can to get rid of the tome as quickly as possible. But it’s not that easy, because the book can’t be destroyed so easily. And little by little the “Scary Stories” begin to decimate them one by one…
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Movie Meaning
Writer Alwin Schwartz published his first of three scary short story collections entitled “Scary Stories to tell in the Dark” in 1981. This was followed by “More Scary Stories to tell in the Dark” and “Scary Stories 3: More Tales to chill your Bones”, all of which are full of eerie spooky stories, the writing style of which is aimed primarily at a children and young adult audience. When writing his short stories, Schwartz drew on all sorts of urban legends, legends and myths, but also sometimes invented his own characters to teach his young readers fear. Now the previously unknown director and author André Øvredal (“The Autopsy of Jane Doe”) has taken on the material and was able to rely on the support of horror legend Guillermo del Toro (“Crimson Peak”) . He helped the newcomer as a screenwriter and producer and also supported him as a creative advisor. You can tell because “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” combines nostalgic horror with modern genre trends and is therefore both really entertaining and atmospheric. Above all, the film leaves its audience with a positive feeling from the cinema at the end. This is no longer something we are used to in horror cinema, which currently focuses primarily on psychological terror.
Auggie (Gabriel Rush), Chuck (Austin Zajur), Ramon (Michael Garza) and Stella (Zoe Margaret Colletti) find Sarah Bellows’ journal.
Even if the trailer (and indeed the title itself) might suggest otherwise, “Scary Stories to tell in the Dark” is not just a collection of short stories in which one filmed urban legend follows the next. There is certainly a narrative superstructure that encompasses all the scary stories brought to life . It would actually only have been needed here to a limited extent – “Scary Stories to tell in the Dark” would certainly have worked extremely well as an anthology. Due to the structure now chosen, in which the monsters and legends taken up one after the other still seem like chapters, or better: cinematic stages, director André Øvredal is taking advantage of a trend that has been dominating fantastic film and series events for some time. Children and young people who have to fight together against evil are very popular both in films ( “It” , “Goosebumps” ) and in TV shows (“Stranger Things”). And by setting the story at the end of the 1960s, André Øvredal also creates that eerily beautiful nostalgic flair that viewers are currently longing for. This focus on certain decades is not surprising: the children here are still without smartphones or the Internet, bicycles are used as a means of transport – these days the kids from “Scary Stories” would probably have googled what they should do against their overpowering opponents like scarecrows; probably pretty boring.
As you would expect from Guillermo del Toro, the whole thing is also really well tricked and looks extremely high quality thanks to the atmospheric camera work by Roman Osin (“Pride and Prejudice”) . Thanks to the individual horror stations, which are taken up like short films, “Scary Stories to tell in the Dark” is visually wonderfully varied. A section in which one of the kids has to deal with a monster that moves very slowly towards its victims takes place solely in the bright red-lit corridors of a hospital. A foot chase in a cornfield, on the other hand, relies on a dark look and the confusion between the huge stalks of grain. In addition, the makers only use computer tricks to a limited extent; Regardless of whether it is a walking corpse looking for its lost toe or the so-called Jingly Man – a creature whose limbs are distributed completely randomly over the entire body – the hunt for the teens begins: There is danger in the confrontation between the friends and their countless adversaries accessible at any time. Only the urban legend about a spider that laid its eggs in a young woman’s cheek falls short in terms of tricks – which doesn’t mean that what’s shown would be any less painful.
Unfortunately, the framework plot surrounding the grisly backstory of author Sarah Bellows turns out to be the weakest part of “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”. The resolution of this legend is only moderately exciting due to the lack of emotional punch and the fact that it was only discussed very peripherally beforehand, and the very last scene in particular makes it seem as if they were just trying to keep the door open to a sequel. The creators, as well as the main characters, all of whom are solidly portrayed by newcomers, never show genuine interest in the whereabouts of Sarah Bellows in connection with this subplot; It’s difficult to transfer the enthusiasm for it to the audience. The individual horror stories themselves are much better. When selecting them, André Øvredal used chapters from all three “Scary Stories” volumes. The moment they appear, all the dark characters give you goosebumps. The people in charge know very well how to stir this up in the audience through the occasional jump scares, the aesthetic camera work and the sometimes a bit too intrusive, but therefore also very productive score (Marco Beltrami, Anna Drubich). The most remarkable thing about “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” is that you feel good after going to the cinema. Because the director and his producer want their film to be fun above all else. And they managed to do that by not putting the emotional terror of these events at the center of the action, but by following the adventure of the kids on an equal footing, who stick together even more over the events and grow beyond themselves than they already did. Almost like “Goosebumps” – only for adults.
Conclusion: Scary at the moment, but not disturbing to the end – “Scary Stories to tell in the Dark” is pleasantly nostalgic horror with mostly very successful handmade effects and a great creature design, which only lacks a bit of oomph in the lame narrative superstructure between the individual short horror episodes robs.
“Scary Stories to tell in the Dark” can be seen in USA cinemas from October 31st.