Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)
Title: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Genre: Horror | Mystery | Thriller |
Runtime: 111 min
Director: André Øvredal
Starring: Zoe Margaret Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush
A group of teens face their fears in order to save their lives.
A promising “Stranger Things-isch” horror franchise
I’m a big fan of Guillermo del Toro, even though he wasn’t at the forefront of this film, I felt a must to give it a watch. I got a lot what I looked for, with Del Toro’s trademarks all over this picture, suspense, clever scares and unique nightmare-giving creatures meanwhile I could feel director Øvredal’s own vision filter through. This film feels mostly very pupped by the people behind scenes, but when Del Toro is one of them that’s a very good call. With the collective directorship, it gives the film a “Stranger Things” feeling, with quirky and sort of funny teenagers getting into a paranormal adventure which will lead to some of their demises. The style the most of today’s successful horror films are going, playing with the audience’s emotions giving them not only scary moments but also funny, sad and tragic.
Here, in this film, we get to follow three teenagers’ friends and one mysterious stranger who unleash the demonic power of the self-writing book that is writing their fate story-by-story. In every story, it writes the victim meets its demise through a creature taking the form of something they are scared about, mostly monster they got told about in the younger, but still this is some terrifying nightmare to meet. This is a good premise about meeting one’s fears, teamwork and moving on. A prime example of this is the main character Stella Nicholls who for most of her life struggled with the emotional distress that her mother put on her and her father by leaving them. With now having that back of her mind while her friends disappear one-by-one. She needs to move on to meet her fears straight ahead and save the day.
I liked how the cast handled their roles. They all were the right ages for their roles, so it was not too much pretending in that way, only needed to focus on their characters human elements. Like I previously said, this film feels very like Stranger Things or even the latest version of Stephen King’s IT. This is the same when it comes to the acting, not revolutionary but still good. My favorite is being Stella, played by Zoe Margaret Colletti, quirky and relatable.
I really feel like fifty-fifty about the effects, some were better than others. For example, when it comes to the monsters, they all only show up when the book is creating them with its writings. The first ones looked cool and realistic but gradually throughout the film they became more fake-looking. We started with a scary corps field and ended with a goofy dough-looking demon. This error with the film I hoped only was because lost of time or money, not a conscious creative choice, because this really takes you out of some genuine scares. If they couldn’t keep the same quality on the creatures, they at least could hide the bad parts. If Francis Ford Coppola could hide Marlon Brando’s oversized stomach in Apocalypse Now through clever lighting and body double, Øvredal could have hidden a 3D-dough.
Overall this film was kind of alright, I liked the story and the actors but not some of the production parts, because they couldn’t keep the quality throughout. I still recommend a watch for a midnight-view at home or in the cinema.
Richard Bengtsson | Journalist.