Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Director: André Øvredal
Writer: Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman
Based on: Alvin Schwartz‘ book series
Cast: Zoe Margaret Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Abrams, Dean Norris, Gil Bellows, Austin Zajur, Natalie Ganzhorn, Lorraine Toussaint
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 28.9.2019
It’s Halloween 1968 and Stella (Zoe Margaret Colletti), Chuck (Austin Zajur) and Auggie (Gabriel Rush) are up to some mischief – more or less enthusiastically. One thing leads to another and the three find themselves on the run together with Ramon (Michael Garza). They end up in the Bellows Mansion that is said to be haunted. There they find a notebook with handwritten stories. Stella – an avid reader and writer herself – takes an interest in the stories. But she quickly realizes that the stories seem to be written just for them. And they start to become real.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark doesn’t have a lot of new things to offer, but it is sweet and charming and just works.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark fits in well with the slew of 80s nostalgia movies that have been released in the past few years, albeit being set in the 60s. But the tone of the film is very much the same, so if you’re into those nostalgia films, you should definitely give this a go. Still, it was nice to get a different (time) setting for once.
It was also nice that the film does include some racial commentary, so the racism of the 60s doesn’t get lost in the nostalgia. I thought that it works pretty well with Ramon, but less so when they try to tackle the position of Black women.
Most importantly though, the film has sweet relatable characters that you rooted for and who made the episodic story structure work mostly because you cared for each and every one of them.
The horror part works for the most part (apart from the second jump scare with the Jangly Man) and it leads to an ending that is surprisingly bleak and depressing. I did not expect them to go quite that dark – but that probably just means that the doors are opened for a sequel. I’d watch that.
Summarizing: Well done.