Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

In Theatres: 
Aug 09, 2019
Running Time: 
108 minutes

I have plenty of fond memories from my childhood; playing in the park with my friends, going to Braves games, having sleepovers and watching movies. Then there’s also the ghastly, black and white images of rotting corpses, spiders bursting out of a girl’s face, and the stitched up scarecrow named Harold. The sheer mention of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark will trigger flashbacks to the children’s novels where these images first embedded themselves in my brain forever. The stories were short, simple, yet highly effective on any kid’s innocent mind, especially when paired with the way-too-disturbing-for-kids drawings. Now that I’m in my 30s, horror legend Guillermo del Toro is teaming up with director André Øvredal to bring these terrifying stories to life on the big screen. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a solid adaptation of the novels it’s based on and is sure to terrify a new generation of kids, although nothing is quite as scary as the images that caused so many nightmares all those years ago.


If you’e wondering how an anthology of short horror stories can be adapted into a single narrative film, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark actually manages to do a great job at connecting multiple stories together in a manner that makes sense for the overall plot. The year is 1968 in the small town of Mill Valley and Stella (Zoe Colletti) along with her two friends Auggie (Gabriel Rush) and Chuck (Austin Zajur) are looking to get revenge on the local school bully Tommy (Austin Abrams). When their prank goes wrong, they run into newcomer Ramón (Michael Garza) and find refuge in the rumored haunted house of Sarah Bellows. There they find her book of scary stories that turn out to be all too real, and soon the friends find themselves as the subjects of newly written stories. As the horrors on the pages start to come to life, they must figure out a way to stop the stories from being written before it’s too late.


There are more than 80 stories spread across three collections, and the film adapts some of the most popular ones including “Harold,” “The Red Spot,” “The Big Toe,” and “Me Tie Dough-ty Walker!” All of the monsters from the stories are brought to life in terrifying detail, and the artists did a great job at capturing the creepiness of the original drawings. The disturbing smirk and dead eyes of the lady from “The Dream” for instance is just as scary on screen as it was on paper. 


Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark does take a little bit of time to really get going, but it works as a great introduction to the series for a new generation of kids who might not have read the original stories. For those of us who grew up reading them, it’s a nice little dose of scary nostalgia. There’s a lot of setup and filler you have to wade through in order to get to the good stuff, and I hate how everything these days feels the need to be built around potential sequels, but Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark will please anyone looking for a solid traditional horror story.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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