Based on the popular horror anthology for children, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a fun, spooky appetizer for tweens and teens, and those who remember what it was like, as they transition into horror.

Set in 1968, we follow a group of marginalized teenagers who come across a haunted book that is literally writing vengeful stories with their names in them. The stories are plucked from the books and brought to wonderful life with ghastly impressive practical makeup effects that eerily mirror the illustrations by Stephen Gammell. I wouldn’t call the movie disturbing or gory or even overly gross, but it can be unnerving at times drawing upon the suspense of someone hiding and/or worrying about what is advancing without recourse. I had some quality squirming in my seat in this movie. It’s a simple yet effective formula that is played well by director André Øvredal (The Autopsy of Jane Doe).

Even when the signature vignettes aren’t on display, I was enjoying spending time with the teenage characters and watching them try and navigate being different in a small town, feeling lost or misunderstood, and really trying to decipher some system of rules with the haunted book. It feels akin to a Final Destination where a small band of characters are doomed and have to outthink their supernatural boogeyman before the next one is picked off. It’s just enough that the movie doesn’t feel like it’s losing too much momentum when we have to transition back to the original material after leaving the scary story stars, the monsters.

This is an enjoyable throwback to 80s children’s movies that were allowed to be a little creepy, a little odd, a little spooky, and not so safe and mundane. It’s also a fun movie for your more macabre-enchancted youngins out there and older adults that remember being macabre-enchanted youngins themselves.

Nate’s Grade: B


This review originally ran on Nate’s own review site Nathanzoebl. Check it out for hundreds of excellent reviews!

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About The Author

monsterid

Nate Zoebl is an avid film lover since he was yea-high to whatever people are yea-high to. He's written film reviews since he was 17 years old and is a proud member of the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA). He is an active screenwriter, educator, filmmaker with the award-winning group Edwin J. Hill, one-time playwright ("Our Town... Attacked by Zombies"), lover of bad movies thanks to a childhood fed by the likes of MST3K, perhaps the world's foremost scholar on the movies of Dr. Uwe Boll, and sometimes collection of coherent molecules.