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Movie ReviewsScary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Fun Horror Fare For Younger Audiences (Early Review)

jamierogers1August 8, 201970/100
Starring
Zoe Margaret Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush
Writers
Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman, Guillermo del Toro
Director
André Øvredal
Rating
14A (Canada), PG-13 (United States)
Running Time
111 minutes
Release Date
August 9th, 2019
Overall Score
Rating Summary
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a horror-lite film perfect for pre-teens looking to dip their feet into the genre, and a decently entertaining genre flick on the whole.

From the mind of maestro Guillermo Del Toro, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark follows high schooler Stella (Colletti) as she stumbles across a haunted book of stories, the likes of which come true as soon as they are written. 

While the film’s marketing may make it confusing as to who exactly Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is aimed at, the film itself makes it very clear that it is for a young adult or pre-teen audience. There is plenty of grotesque imagery and tense scares, but the subject matter itself never delves deeply into violence or anything too macabre. It is dark in tone, but light on true terror. Thus, it acts as a perfect gateway film for kids who found 2015’s Goosebumps film (and its 2018 sequel) a bit too childish and are looking for something with more of a true horror edge.

Now, that’s not to say there’s nothing here to enjoy for adults. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a lot of fun for anyone looking for some easy horror fun. The creatures and monsters are well designed and serve as the basis for many truly creepy sequences throughout. The young cast is energetic and game, if not a bit unimpressionable. The cinematography is well done and the visual style of the film is very satisfying. It’s got fun humor, decent thrills, and is overall a fun time for anyone looking for a digestible, easy to watch horror film. Those looking for a truly involving story or hardcore horror content, however, will find nothing of the kind here. It certainly lifts many elements from It, and while Scary Stories may not be afraid to frighten, it does anything but horrify. It is, at the end of the day, a horror movie for kids.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’s story is fairly basic in that it was nothing too complex or enthralling but rather just enough to satisfy. There are some themes about taking responsibility for your actions as well as the importance of storytelling, which, while delivered quite on the nose, are nice touches for a film aimed at young adults. There isn’t that much that dives past surface level, however, what is presented works for the film.

In the end, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark may not satisfy diehard genre fans but it will most certainly terrify children around the world and by doing so may convert some young ‘fraidy-cats into blossoming horror fans. True horror films made for young teens are hard to come by, so this film is a nice change of pace. To see a kids’ horror film that isn’t afraid to get truly under their skin and give them a good scare is very rare and much appreciated.

If you’re a young teen looking to get into some spookier stuff, but Hereditary seems like a bit too much right now, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is exactly what you’re looking for. If you’re an adult who the aforementioned teen has dragged to see it, chances are you’ll have some fun with the film as well.

*still courtesy of eOne Films*


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