I am not too familiar with any of Andre Ovredal’s previous works. But I will say that I went into this movie with high expectations and left the movie with those expectations being met. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a classic collection of creepy stories that are most popular among people who grew up in the 1990s and the early aughts. This movie does well to expand upon and give more life to the original stories. This movie is one of the few that as of recent that has improved upon its original source materials.
I’ll start off with the cast and the acting. With no significant Hollywood names, Scary Stories could have performed either very well or terribly wrong. Casting did a pretty solid job for this movie. The stand-out for the movie came from the main character Stella, who was played by Zoe Colletti. I was really impressed with the range of emotions she was able to perform. The rest of the cast did not really present super strong performances but I wasn’t mad at them either. There’s only so much you can do with a terribly sub-par script.
Moving on to the script. The script wasn’t terrible but it could’ve been so much more and so much better. Now considering this was a horror movie and horror movies typically suffer from poor writing I’ll say it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. But I lost track of the number of cheesy/corny and cliched lines from the script. There were also moments that seemed like they didn’t need to be in the script that’s set in 1968. All in all, people don’t go see this movie for the script.. they go to get scared and this particular movie didn’t lack in that department.
I went into the movie dreading seeing these monsters in the flesh. And I can’t say I didn’t leave the theater freaked out. The filmmakers did a brilliant job in making those creatures from the pages of the book come to life. Growing up when I read the book, I was always the most scared of a particular story in the first book called “The Big Toe” and I’ll say they delivered the creepy with this one. I was right to dread this monster because she was absolutely petrifying. I loved every minute of it, honestly. I’m still scarred by the Pale Lady and the Jangly man. The way these creatures were created is astounding. The lengths that the effects team went to make them look exactly like the book’s depiction is mind-blowing. If you find some time to go read the interviews with the filmmakers about the making of the monsters please do! I was particularly impressed with the casting of Troy James, a contortionist contestant from last year’s season of America’s Got Talent, as the Jangly Man. If you had asked me before I would’ve said that he was solely CGI.
This could go hand-in-hand with the script, but I loved the way that the stories were woven together. While the movie was as a whole pretty good I didn’t appreciate the ending. I might sound a bit weird and twisted but I didn’t want the happy ending we were given. In the books, nothing ends on a happy note and I was hoping it would translate into the movies. I understand the filmmakers’ reasons but I really wanted it to end more sourly.
Overall, I was really impressed with the way this movie was fleshed out and honestly would gladly go see the sequel! It’s certainly better than several of this summer’s releases. And if you like being scared and haven’t seen it yet.. get off your couch and go see it! It’s a must!