Despite a slight dip in interest from its mid-section, Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark is a wilful and powerful horror with an original message and a well managed story
Superficially, Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark has a modern-teen-jump scare triangle planted firmly on its forehead, marketing itself as a fearful feature for barely-legal teens to throw their money at, in the hope of finding some form of self-understanding and feeling. But it’s a joy to realise that the film is absolutely more than that, and with Guillermo Del Toro partly producing the feature, it was a likely case from the start anyway.
Stella (Zoe Colletti) and her closest friends escape a pack of bullies when they jump into a stranger’s car at a drive-in movie. Now four, the group decide to visit a haunted house on Halloween night to scare themselves silly. But when inside, Stella discovers the mythical book of Sarah Bellows; a book where the stories written always come true.
Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark is entirely driven by its monster creation. From Harold the mangled scarecrow, to the Jangly Man and his detachable body parts, each section is ruled by its unique style of fear and horror. Director Ovredal has worked hard to realise each small story as its own piece, like an anthology film would, understanding and putting to action the horror that they create.
The monsters hold the tension and the marketability of the piece, but outside of Sarah Bellows’ stories, there still needed to be a human and a relatable impact for the film, and that comes from the great young performances of the core group. Funny and engaging, they act as an entertaining audience to the book’s horror, becoming more than the casual horror film allows its characters to be.
Despite a slight dip in interest from its mid-section, Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark is a wilful and powerful horror with an original message and a well managed story. It transcends the casual teen horror flick, and looks to make the best horror’s with theming and meaning, accessible to all.