Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark
review by Bobby Blakey
I love creative horror films and some of the best in the last few years have been anthology style films. Now Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy director Guillermo del Toro is producing an all-new horror film from Troll Hunter director André Øvredal called Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark based on the book series of the same name from Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell. Could this film do the children’s books justice or will it be a story not worth coming to life?
Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark follows l968 in America and change is blowing in the wind...but seemingly far removed from the unrest in the cities is the small town of Mill Valley where for generations, the shadow of the Bellows family has loomed large. It is in their mansion on the edge of town that Sarah, a young girl with horrible secrets, turned her tortured life into a series of scary stories, written in a book that has transcended time—stories that have a way of becoming all too real for a group of teenagers who discover Sarah’s terrifying tome. While I have never read the books I was well aware of them and was interested to see how they translated them to the big screen. While there are some issues over all it works pretty well.
Much like the books it is more geared towards a younger audience while being a more creepy film as opposed to overall scary. There is a Goosebumps vibe to it all, but with a more sinister twist that is clearly more for the older youth and adults. Looking through some of the imagery of the books it looks as though they did a great translation of the look and feel of the monsters. The first half of the film is a bit slow paced as it sets everything up and introduces the characters involved. The stories are a mix from multiple books, but are designed well enough to work together.
I loved the dark tone and old school vibe it had and while I would have loved
a more R rated version of the material I get the target audience it is pushing for based on the books themselves. This made more sense to me and opens it up for a bigger fan base as well as driving people to the books. Sure there could have been a bit more tension built at times to really sell the scares, but it still worked for me. I love that with films like this and Goosebumps we have films that can fuel the imagination and love of the horror genre for the younger audience.
They left it open to clearly tell more tales and there are plenty to choose from int eh book series should this franchise kick off. I would love to see more and hope they keep the tone, but make sure to bring a bit more tension to the overall execution to take it to the next level without losing its target audience rating. We have our rated R and Unrated horror films, but let's make a place for films like this as a bridge for the youth and for us adults to have some fun.
In addition to the film, this release includes numerous bonus features including featurettes that take you behind bringing this iconic book series to life. Grab your copy of Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark available now on digital and then on 4K Ultra, Blu-ray and DVD on November 5th from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.