Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a 2019 horror film directed by André Øvredal (Future Murder, Trollhunter, & The Autopsy of Jane Doe). It’s based on the children’s book series of the same name by Alvin Schwartz. It’s written by Dan & Kevin Hageman (Hotel Transylvania, The Lego Movie, The Lego Ninjago Movie, Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia, & Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu). It’s co-written & produced by film maker Guillermo del Toro (The Strain, Pacific Rim: Uprising, Mama, Splice, & Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark) who originally considered directing this. The budget was an estimated $28 million & it grossed $95.6 million worldwide at the box office!!!!
In the small town of Mill Valley, Pennsylvania in 1968, three teenage friends that include Stella (played by: Zoe Colletti from Skin, Rubicon, City on a Hill, Annie, & Wildlife), Auggie (played by: Gabriel Rush from The Kitchen, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom, & No Letting Go), & Chuck (played by: Austin Zajur from Fist Fight, Delinquent, & Student Body) play a prank on bully Tommy Milner (played by: Austin Abrams from Less Than Zero, Euphoria, The Walking Dead, Tragedy Girls, & The Kings of Summer) on Halloween night. Tommy & his friends chase them to the drive-in movie theater that’s showing Night of the Living Dead where they meet drifter Ramon (played by: Michael Garza from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 & Wayward Pines) & they hide in his car for safety. Later on, they visit the infamous & haunted Bellows house. They find a book of horror stories written by Sarah Bellows (played by: Kathleen Pollard from The Strain & Young Badlands). Stella discovers that a new story entitled “Harold” about a vengeful Scarecrow (played by: Mark Steger from Critters: A New Binge, The Nun, Stranger Things, & The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot) going after his tormentor Tommy. The next day, Tommy Milner is reported missing. A new story called “The Big Toe” is being written about a zombie (played by: Javier Botet from IT, The Mummy, REC franchise, The Conjuring 2, & Insidious: The Last Key) searching for it’s missing toe. Stella & Ramón discover their friend Auggie is the main character in this demented tale so they try to rush over to save him but it’s too late.
They now know these stories are pulling in the people around them & they try to stop it from happening again so they do some research on it’s author Sarah Bellows. Stella, Chuck, & Ramon witness a brand new story pop up called “The Red Spot”. Chuck thinks it’s about him but it ends up focusing on his sister Ruth (played by: Natalie Ganzhorn from The Stanley Dynamic, Make It Pop, & The Night Before Halloween) & her spider bite that keeps expanding. They make it to the school in time to keep her alive but the trauma was already done to her before they arrived. She gets locked away. They get separated at the mental hospital when the next story “The Dream” centers around Chuck being terrorized by the phantom from his recurring nightmares known as The Pale Lady (played by: Mark Steger from The Pact 1/2. Incarnate, I Am Legend, & Mr. Jones). He gets trapped by the huge monster. Stella & Ramon get picked up by the police for trespassing. Stella calls her father Roy (played by: Dean Norris from Breaking Bad, Total Recall, Under the Dome, & Death Wish) & tells him if he something happens that she didn’t leave him. Police Chief Turner (played by: Gil Bellows from Love and a .45, The Shawshank Redemption, Ally McBeal, & House at the End of the Street) doesn’t believe their claims until the next entry is written before his eyes “Me Tie Dough-ty Walker” which features a monster known as The Jangly Man (played by: Troy James from Hellboy, The Void, The Strain, The Flash, & Channel Zero) that reconstructs itself from separate body parts. He’s from a campfire tale that horrified Ramon as a child. Stella is forced to go back to the haunted house & confront the ghost of Sarah Bellows to save Ramon from the terrifying creature. Can she convince the angry spirit to let go of the past????
Die hard fans of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark book series know what to expect from this adaptation but the general public doesn’t. I understand most people want & expect a horror movie to be very dark, brutal, full of random nudity, & loaded with gore but this one is the wrong one if you have those expectations. Yes, it does have a few dark moments lightly I may add spreaded across the feature but it’s few & far between because this is a children’s horror feature. It does live up to what it’s based on & it didn’t try to be anything different than that. I thought they pulled it off here, it wasn’t beyond tame or straight up PG if you are thinking that but it kept it classy.
This is something you can watch with a kid with no problems at all which is very rare with the horror sub-genre. I love horror anthologies & this one didn’t have a weak entry at all in it. They all had their strong points to them plus it provided a nice variety. I was very impressed with the visual & special fx for this production. The monsters looked great in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark . I really enjoyed how all the stories interacted with each other. The younger cast was actually way better than expected that included Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Zajur, Natalie Ganzhorn, & Austin Abrams. Veterans like Dean Norris & Gil Bellows added some experience to round out the feature. This delivered on everything that I expected from it & I am hoping they do a sequel like they teased in this, RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Lionsgate! This 1080p (2.39:1) transfer looks stunning on blu ray, I can only imagine what the 4K looks like. Each segment has it’s own unique look to it. The colorful cinematography pops out on the screen. The production design is top notch & it really shines on this format. It has two different audio options which include English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 & Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 on this release. They are solid but could have been better. The dialogue is very clean, all the scares are elevated, & the music has a nice boost to it. It also has English, English SDH, & Spanish subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features from Lionsgate! “Dark Tales” is a little over 5 minutes. It has interviews with director André Øvredal, producer Guillermo del Toro, actors Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Zajur, Natalie Ganzhorn, Kathleen Pollard, & various members of the production. Guillermo del Toro chats about being a huge fan of the original source material. They talk about the iconic images from the series & re-creating them here. They bring up that they picked 10 stories but couldn’t fit them all in one feature. Guillermo del Toro bought original paintings from the series right under Tim Burton’s nose while working at New Line. “Retro Horror” is a little over 5 minutes. It has interviews with director André Øvredal, producer Guillermo del Toro, actors Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Zajur, Natalie Ganzhorn, & Kathleen Pollard. They chat about the director & the style of it. They talk about the stories. ” The Bellows Construct” is almost 4 minutes. It goes over one of the major locations from the film. It talks about the production design & look of the haunted death house. “Creatures from the Shadows” is almost 12 minutes. This is my personal favorite extra on this release. It has interviews with director André Øvredal, producer Guillermo del Toro, the cast, & various members of the production including special fx artists. It has all kinds of behind the scenes footage. Guillermo del Toro was very hands on with this project. They go into great detail about every major creature in this which includes Sarah Bellows, Harold, The Toe Zombie, The Pale Lady, & The Jangly Man plus a inside look into “The Red Spot” segment. This is why I really enjoyed this, it felt like a old monster movie at times. “Mood Reels” is a little over 24 minutes. It covers 7 different weeks of footage from the production. “Behind the Scenes: Set Visits” is almost 5 minutes & it’s broken down into 2 segments. It also has a slipcover, a digital code, & a DVD copy of the release. A few store exclusives were released for this. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!