SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK (2019)
Dir: Andre Ovredal
Reviewed Aug 16, 2019
NO SPOILERS AHEAD
The film version of Alvin Schwartzs’ YA tome “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”, with the imprimateur of horror and fantasy legend Guillermo del Toro, looked like a certain hit. Well, since there’s no accounting for taste, at least a good flick to begin the early Halloween season.
Mediocrity, however, is a beast which needs beating back despite appearances. In filmdom, that beast manifests itself in lazy storytelling, unnecessary subplots, weak development and tired tropes. Here, we have a mild mix of most of these problems, yet none are overwhelming enough to turn it into a crudfest.
Rural small town local yokels in Pennsylvania are predictably 1) a female goth, 2) a boy passing through who like the goth, 3) a bully, and 4) the town cop. Now given this you should not be surprised by this, as it is not too unpredictable to figure out who will be the first to get killed, by a scarecrow he beats with a bat at every convenience, which slowly terrorizes the bully on — another predictability — Halloween night.
That most terrifying of all nights is also when our goth and the out of towner visit an otherwise unfindable cellar in the town’s menacing abandoned manse. Within, she steals a journal of the woman who was sheltered within almost her entire life. Goth girl gets home, and stories start writing themselves in the diary; stories which become true as they are being written.
Though the unfolding stories, there are a few highlights. The Jangly Man monster is a collection of body parts which fall from a fireplace and assemble themselves in what is the coolest part of the movie. Oh, and let’s not forget the young actors, most especially, the lovely Zoe Colletti as the goth girl, who are — like the young actors in IT: PART 1: THE LOOSERS CLUB — the best part of the movie. I see several careers blooming.
Yes, I know it’s based on a YA novel, but this horror movie is less scary than an old episode of Scooby Doo. If you have an 11 year old to occupy with mindnumbing media, place them in front of this snoozefest.