Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)
August 11, 2019 1:05 PM - Subscribe

On Halloween night in 1968, three teenagers in the small town of Mill Valley, Pennsylvania—horror-obsessed amateur writer Stella and her friends Auggie and Chuck—play a prank on school bully Tommy Milner and evade him with the help of drifter Ramon. The group decides to explore a local haunted house which belonged to the Bellows family who helped found the town. Inside they find a secret room and a book of scary stories belonging to Sarah Bellows who is not in any family photographs. Are the scary stories tell about Sarah and her stories true? Based on the children's horror story collections of the same name. Produced and co-written by Guillermo del Toro. Directed by André Øvredal (Trollhunter).
posted by DirtyOldTown (3 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In and of itself, this is a good movie. Not a great one, but good, for sure. But it's going be positively a touchstone for the generation of kids born in say 2005, because it absolutely nails the exact level of spooky/scary preferred by that subset of kids who are too old for Halloween silliness and too young for grim R-rated horror. That is a target that isn't attempted as often as a person might think and rarely hit so dead to rights when it is.

I cannot wait to show this to my bright fifth grader, because this is going to be so perfect for him.

del Toro and company really do a terrific job of targeting images and archetypes that draw on familiar old yarns and bits of folklore, but in a way that makes them feel elemental, rather than worn out.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:11 PM on August 11, 2019 [7 favorites]

Minor side note: I think Gil Bellows must be a pretty cool and self-aware person. Because this isn't the first time I've seen him lean in to his privileged middle-aged white man physicality (he really just looks a cop or the big-shot manager or the dad who somehow ends up in charge) in a knowing way, creating an instantly repellent persona out of the smallest of gestures and the minimum of lines. He's really leveraging that baggage in a way that makes me guess he must be damned near the opposite in real life.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:15 PM on August 11, 2019 [6 favorites]

I thought this was pretty good, but weird in a lot of ways.

The frame story didn't really hold up for me, especially once the spooky stuff started. All of the characters are too flat, and the ones I cared about got less screen time because of that. Likewise, the Sarah Bellows stuff doesn't really have enough room to breathe, so it just kinda ends without much of a conclusion, and you never really get a sense of what the ostensible antagonist of the movie wants or what motivates them.

That being said, the creature scenes were great. I'm hoping this does well enough for a sequel, because I'd like to see the same effects team with potentially a larger budget.
posted by codacorolla at 2:36 PM on August 26, 2019

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