Movie Review: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

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Summary: A group of teens face their fears in order to save their lives.
Pros:
Cast and Characters. I don’t think I want to really hit each character as I normally would do but I think it’s important to say that I think all of the characters are fine. In the beginning they were all kind of annoying which might have been the point. I’ll give a mention to all the actors though. Zoe Colleti as Stella Nicholls she’s the horror expert. Michael Garza as Ramón Morales he’s a mysterious handsome stranger. Gabriel Rush as August “Auggie” Hilderbrandt he’s the smart one? lol Austin Zajur as Chuck Steinberg the jokester. Natalie Ganzhorn as Ruth Steinberg the “popular girl?” Austin Abrams as Tommy Milner the bully lol.
The Monsters. So, if you know these books then you know what the stories are like and you most likely know what they look like and what their stories are like. I know for me, I was prepared for how they would look because I’m familiar but let me tell you, I was still not prepared to be as shocked as I was when I saw them in the film. The ones that will probably stick with you the most will probably be the Pale Lady and Jangly Man because she’s so… I mean you can’t stop thinking about her and you see Jangly Man quite a bit during the climax lol.
  • Harold the Scarecrow.I think scarecrows are creepy in general unless they’re in the Wizard of Oz lol and he really looks quite a bit like his book counterpart and yeah.
  • The Toe Monster. You see her a little but the lead up to her reveal is really freaky so I think the lead up is scarier than her reveal.
  • The Spiders. If you are afraid of spiders then this will probably really freak you out but they’re just spiders.
  • The Pale Lady. Bruh lol
  • Jangly Man. Disturbing and creepy. Troy James does all the body movement for this character and it helped me to be a little less scared because I’m aware of this guy from other mediums but he’s amazing in the physicality for the role.
Interesting Story. For the most part, the story is interesting. It’s set of course, on Halloween and our main characters are outcasts and they end up in the Haunted House in their town. They find stuff they’re not supposed to find and it kicks our story off. So, our stories connect due to the characters and there is a mystery behind all the monsters we encounter in the film. It reminded me of an episode of Scooby Doo when it came to the mystery we learned along the way. It might have been better without a connecting overarching story, who can really say but at least the story was still a bit interesting even when the monsters weren’t on screen.
Tension! The movie does a really good job at building the tension for the film. Sure, there are jump scares and set ups for jump scares but when the monsters are preparing to show up, you’re not sure what they’re going to look like (if you’ve never seen any of the illustrations from the book), or what they’re going to do or how they’re going to do it. I found myself really anticipating what was going to happen. I did get a little scared at some things but that’s because they do such a great job at setting up the moment.
Cons:
Not Scary? That depends on your level or scare. I don’t like scary things but I remember these books and the horrifying illustrations (I mean some of them are weird but others are them are really disturbing) and so I had some inkling of how things would look and how I might react to them. Jump scares do make me jump, I mean that’s a given, but I found myself disturbed and creeped out more than scared. Though, if I had to pick, I would say The Pale Woman and Jangly Man are the two scariest/disturbing in the film.
The Characters. You might find the characters rather annoying. I did in the beginning, all of them except Ramon. Chucky’s voice really grated on me at the beginning and I found the entire sequence from the Drive In to the Haunted House really annoying. Sure, it was setting everything but I was rolling my eyes so hard at these people that I was like “y’all are dumb” and Stella, oh man, it’s all her fault. They do end up growing on you, well at least for me. But I wouldn’t be surprised if you definitely don’t like them at all and there’s hardly any character development, at least not enough to make you like them past a shallow level.
Storytelling/ The Story. I think a lot of people will probably say this but perhaps this should have been an anthology of sorts? With disconnecting short stories? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I still praised the story but I did find myself thinking that it was cliché with how a lot of things played out or how they were set up. Plus, people are stupid. I liked it for the most part but I rolled my eyes a lot.
The Climax/Ending. I think the climax was lacking compared to the rest of the film. We get our last two stories and while one of them was really good with gross scares and great tension, the last one was the crux of the film, the answer to the mystery and I wasn’t so interested in it, I just wanted them to skip to the answers lol. When they face off against the last monster, not only was I disappointed in the “Boss Monster’s” look but I was disappointed in how it was resolved. I don’t know, it felt like an easy way out. It’s clearly setting up a sequel with how the film ended but the wrap up for this story, I was like “Alright, what’s the deal with the other characters?” lol.
Time Period. I don’t quite get why this had to be set in the 70s. I thought it was odd when they told us and I didn’t really think it needed to be set at that time. Perhaps they didn’t need to make a specific time period at all. But maybe they did it so they didn’t have to explain away advanced technology. Meh, I just thought it was a random setting lol.
Overall, I wasn’t sure what to expect while watching Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. I mean, I knew it might freak me out because I don’t like scary movies (though I clearly saw this and I will see It: Chapter Two haha) but I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I did. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I was a little irritated with how the characters were set up because they were annoying. But they ended up growing on me in the end and I thought the acting across the board was really good. The design of the monsters are also good and pretty true to what is drawn in the books, they’re unsettling to be honest lol. Also props to Troy James for Jangly Man. I think the story for the most part is interesting and I don’t think you’ll get bored watching it unfold with the familiar stories mixed in. Also, the tension is handled really well! I mean if anything, it’s definitely what makes the scares and unsettling moments really hit. Now, it might not be that scary for some people so I can imagine that that might be like rolls eyes for some people. The storytelling had a lot to be desired because I couldn’t help but wonder throughout if it might have been better as an anthology instead of a connected story. Also, the climax/ending was pretty lame compared to the rest of the film. I also did not care for the time period but I guess in the end I get it. But still lol. In the end, if you liked these books then definitely check out this film, it’s a good Halloween watch.
Rating: 3.7 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark? Are you interested? What was your favorite story from the books? Let me know your thoughts below!
Thanks for reading and keep your eyes open for more movie reviews!
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