Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark: A Great Film for People Wanting to Enter Horror

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Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark was released earlier this summer, on August 8th, and is the movie adaptation of the book series of the same name. The director, André Øvredal, has had his hand in a few other movies such as The Autopsy of Jane Doe and the Norwegian film Troll Hunter, which are both really good movies. Among the producers of the film are Guillermo del Toro, who has worked on films with terrifying monsters before such as Pan’s Labyrinth, Mimic, and the pre-2010 Hellboy series. The teenage cast is made up of Zoe Colletti as Stella Nicholls, Michael Garza as Ramón Morales, Gabriel Rush as Auggie Hilderbrandt, Natalie Ganzhorn as Ruth Steinberg, and Austin Zajur as Chuck Steinberg. Having already enjoyed films by both André and Del Toro, I was pretty excited! I even felt that getting actors who weren’t in a lot of media was a pretty smart idea, because then people can’t really judge them on past performances and have to see for themselves if the actors are good or not.

I was pretty excited for this movie seeing as I love horror and almost everything Guillermo del Toro has had a hand in. I wasn’t expecting anything too scary and was just expecting some creepy monsters, good acting, and a fun time. Lucky for me, the movie gave me everything I asked for.

Starting off with the story: It was okay. The main story was a trope so it wasn’t very original or interesting on its own. The main kids anger a bully, get chased into a house that’s said to be haunted, bring home a book, and anger a ghost by the name of Sarah Bellows. When her friends start disappearing, Stella realizes that Sarah Bellows is writing stories in the book that summons monsters and takes them away. Pretty generic, but the character interactions are what make the movie great. The friends actually feel like friends, and family members actually feel like family.

What is arguably the worst scene in the movie takes place really early on when Auggie blatantly shows he has a crush on Stella. Not only is it extremely awkward, but it also goes absolutely nowhere.  Characters’ reactions to the creatures seem genuine and you can feel the fear resonating off of them.

The monsters were okay. Some of them were creepy in design and sent chills down my spine when they were on screen. Others were “meh,” not being too scary. There were some that were kind of dumb, one of them mainly because they were entirely CGI. Their origins are something that I enjoy because they were cut straight from the source material.

The actual things that make this movie a horror are a mixed bag. The atmosphere is thick with creepiness and you can tell that the director tried to fill the viewer with unease. My issue with the horror aspects of the film are that there are jumpscares throughout and some monsters aren’t even scary (there was one that was so stupid in concept that my girlfriend, brother, and I were cracking up everytime they were on screen). Back to the jumpscares . . . there are over 10 in the movie and they’re predictable enough that they fail to catch the viewer off guard.

Scary Movies to Tell in the Dark was a pretty fun movie to watch. Even though it wasn’t the scariest, it was never meant to be. It was meant to be an intro to the horror genre and I feel it worked pretty well. The practical effects were phenomenal and some uses of CGI weren’t too bad either. From 1-10, I’d rate this a 7.5. The characters were great and the atmosphere was a plus, but the overuse of jumpscares and tropes hold this one back.