Film Review – Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

Title – Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

Director – André Øvredal (The Autopsy of Jane Doe)

Cast – Zoe Margaret Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Zajur, Dean Norris

Plot – On Halloween night in 1968 a group of teenagers unknowingly unleash an evil spirit after they find a nefarious diary of a long dormant citizen.  

“You don’t read the book. It reads you”

Review by Eddie on 20/02/2020

Tell me a scary story I hear you ask.

Well you’re in luck dear reader as I have a very scary story to tell you indeed!

The type of story that will leave you with shivers down your spine, this is a tale of how an Oscar winning heavyweight used his industry prowess to reimagine Alvin Schwartz’s famous set of horrific tales into one downright atrocious feature length offering.

Getting credit as both producer and story by, beloved Mexican director Guillermo del Toro has backed in André Øvredal (the man behind the brilliant Troll Hunters and The Autopsy of Jane Doe) to be the man to bring Schwartz’s tales to life, as they amalgamate a collection of his dastardly yarns into one feature length experience that will surely make you believe evil in this world does indeed exist.

Going the pg-13 (M rated in Australia) route, Stories looked to tap into the teenager centred horror marketplace, as we follow a bunch of annoying high-schoolers over a Halloween period in a small American town in the Nixon era of the late 1960’s as they come into possession of a nasty little book that sees its readers become the victims of its bloodthirsty tales.

A daft plot no doubt but also one that could’ve been a guilty pleasure done right, Stories instead makes you wish that you to could become a participant of the book in question and be dispatched in a relatively painless way before you have too witness another second of Austin Zajur’s Razzie worthy acting or Øvredal stumbling around another failed jump scare.

Filled with brief moments of horror goodness, a hospital set-piece or a corn field escapade the standouts, Stories fails to inspire any type of audience reaction or engagement as it trudges along its way, held back by its target audience limitations and uninspired delivery.

It’s truly scary to believe that such talented members of the filmmaking community thought that this final product was one worthy of public consumption, although some dark magic seems to have been present concerning this piece, dark juju that somehow managed to see this tripe turn a profit, get some decent critical reactions and set itself up for a sequel that I’m sure will be just as generic and forgettable as what has come before it.

It goes to show dear reader that we live in a day and age where anything and everything can and will be made, but be wary as watching such pieces of “film” like Stories will slowly but surely zap your will to be a living and breathing cinemagoer.

Final Say –

Squandering a potentially fun opportunity to bring Schwartz’s famed series back into spotlight, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is neither scary, imaginative or interesting enough to warrant your valuable time. Fear the incoming sequel.

½ a vandalized car out of 5  

9 responses to “Film Review – Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

    • Lame is an understatement, I am surprised at how well it was reviewed overall. It was almost completely devoid of anything even slightly good.

  1. I read one of the books when I was a kid and remembered the illustrations being scarier than the story themselves. The movie’s best parts were when they nodded to the stories, but without that intertextual layer, it would have served better as a straight-to-streaming anthology.

    In the early 2000s, indie cinema came in three major flavors: home video/recital aesthetic, mainstream indie (eg, directed by Gus Van Sant or starring Parker Posey), and film student/film festival circuit fare. It was really obvious which films were truly indie because they “looked” (and sounded) so different.

    Digital cameras have made it so much easier to cobble together what looks of quality in the last ten years that if anything it’s revealed how important good writing and editing are. Even when a movie is supposed to be good because the actors are generally very good, if the script is off, no amount of prestige can get it to stick the landing.

  2. I know I’m showing my age here, but I do miss those portmanteau horror movies from Hammer Studios & Amicus Productions. Granted not every tale hit the mark, but there were usually at least two pretty good ones shown in each film (See:
    “Asylum” “From Beyond The Grave” and “The House That Dripped Blood” to name three).

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