REVIEW: “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”

"Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" fails to impress and offers little in the way of scares.

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REVIEW: “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”

Gabriel Lyden, Scepter writer

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“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” is this summer’s lukewarmest PG13 horror movie to add directly to the $5 Walmart movie bin. It follows some kids as their evil book brings all the most “famous” stories from the children’s book alive.  

I’m not sure what I expected here, to be completely honest with you all. One would think that after being lied to so much about movies being good, I’d learn to tamper my expectations a tad. Maybe it was 79% on Rotten Tomatoes that brought me my false hope, or maybe it was just wishful thinking that the original “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” would have enough material in it, albeit childish, to fuel a movie that at least dabbles in the realm of competence.  

If you’ve caught on to my no so positive opinion on the movie, then congratulations, you can read. Now all of you smarties reading this are probably wondering what exactly is wrong with this film. 

Allow me to elaborate. 

Let’s start with the obvious stuff, the scary parts. This movie isn’t scary, and no amount of violin abuse is going to change that. Some directors bring horror to movies by thinking outside the box, some are so comfortable sticking to a tired formulas that they might as well be living in it, like hmm… I don’t know, maybe André Øvredal? Director of 2019’s film adaptation of popular children’s scary story series, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.”  

Onto the characters, which are, you guessed it, not good. There’s an evil jock who slurs his lines to the point I thought he may have been speaking Latin. There’s a cheerleader, three nerds and a draft dodger incase all the Nixon speeches in the background didn’t make the 60s setting obvious enough, although on second thought, the target demographic may need all the help they can get. 

The special effects are well done for what I can assume were children who have never worked with CGI before. The way shadows move when the camera does instead of sticking to the wall where they belong is an interesting, creative choice and I comment the director for his bravery here. 

What would a modern horror be without a predictable story? Not “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” that’s for sure. It follows the main story beats with people dropping like flies until the characters decide, on second, maybe they’d rather not be ripped apart. After telling the evil ghost behind everything that she’s been a very bad girl, she turns good and everyone lives happily ever after with the ending narration attempting to retcon the entire movie. 

There’s really not much else to say or that I’d care to say about “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.” Anything more than a slight glance is infinitely more attention than it deserves, so I’ll cut to the chase. Closing thoughts? Don’t watch it. You’re better than that. 

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