Scary but not full-on horror
FILM REVIEW: SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK (15), SHOWCASE CINEMA DE LUX PETERBOROUGH, OUT NOW
CAST: ZOE MARGARET COLLETTI, MICHAEL GARZA, GABRIEL RUSH, DEAN NORRIS, GIL BELLOWS & KATHLEEN POLLARD,
RUNNING TIME: 1 HR 48 MINS, DIRECTOR: ANDRE OVREDAL
Enough to give you goosebumps?With the popularity of Stranger Things and the remake of Stephen King’s It – nostalgic horror is definitely in right now. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is clearly following the trend while also giving us something new.
Set in 1968 Pennsylvania, the movie focuses around a group of misfit teenagers (as is often the way with these films). While investigating a haunted house on Halloween, they stumble upon a mysterious book of scary stories. When one of the teenagers, Stella (Zoe Margaret Colletti), takes it home it’s not long before she realises that these disturbing stories are starting to appear inside the book – and playing out in real-time to people she knows.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was originally an anthology of short stories written by Alvin Schwartz – and the way they've blended these stories together is quite clever and a lot of fun. With so much happening on the screen, I didn't get bored at all – not even with nearly a two-hour running time.
Each story has a slightly different feel to them. Some have a retro coming-of-age feel – think Stand By Me – while others really get under your skin, providing a couple of genuine scares. I would like to stress though; it really is just a couple of scares. If you're looking for a full-on horror, this may not be for you.This was produced and co-written by Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water) and you can tell. The design of some of the monsters in this movie could only have come from the mind of the man who created the highly-acclaimed Pan’s Labyrinth.
Given that the director, Andre Ovredal, has already helmed a couple of other films in the genre, The Autopsy of Jane Doe and Troll Hunter, it makes sense he’d be the one accomplished enough to combine creatures within a horror setting – and he has done a pretty great job here.But even though the film is good... it’s not flawless.
They definitely could have taken advantage of the Sixties setting. Most of the time it feels like modern day. And had a little more time of been invested into the characters, I'd have cared for their safety more – resulting in a more suspenseful movie. However, with the good clearly out-weighing the bad, this is competent stuff. It’s certainly no instant classic and probably won’t get multiple watches – but it’s well worth ‘reading’ cover-to-cover at least once.
Rating: 3.5/5, Mikey Clarke