Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark Movie Review

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How did they turn the fabled '80s horror-story collection into a movie? By recreating its greademo hits, minus the creepiness that made them great.

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If you were a kid growing up in the ’80s or ’90s và you read Alvin Schwartz’ 1981 spook-tale collection “Scary Stories to lớn Tell in the Dark” (or its two sequels, published in 1984 và 1991), you may have felt lượt thích the stories added up lớn your own private “Twilight Zone,” lớn be consumed with a flashlight under the covers. They had a subversive sầu wonderstruck creepiness intertwined with a weirdly comforting morality. Of course, much of the impact came from Stephen Gammell’s drawings, which were jaw-droppingly horrific for the illustrations in a book aimed at children. His melty black-and-trắng images of skeletons & corpses and rats & scarecrows và wounded bodies were at once fleshy và ghostly, lượt thích dreams with a quality of decay. You could điện thoại tư vấn his style pop-art Francis Bacon, but it also owed something to the children’s-book illustrator Garth Williams (of “Charlotte’s Web” and “Stuart Little” fame). His drawings were over-the-top EC Comics visions given an elegant Victorian timelessness.


The drawings, like the stories themselves, were extreme enough to lớn provoke some of the reflexive repression that the original horror comics did bachồng in the ’50s. Parents periodically tried to get the “Scary Stories” volumes tossed out of school libraries. (This was the ’80s, the age of “Footloose” và Tipper Gore; regulating, and even banning, popular culture was bachồng in vogue.)

But it’s doubtful that there will be a comparable controversy over the film version of “Scary Stories khổng lồ Tell in the Dark.” Produced by (aao ước others) Guillermo del Toro, & directed by the Norwegian art-quái thú maveriông xã André Øvredal (“Trollhunter”), the movie faithfully re-creates the peak moments of half a dozen of Schwartz’ most popular stories, weaving them together — or maybe we should just say Scotch-taping them — inlớn a patchy narrative sầu mix in Mill Valley, Pennsylvania, in the fall of 1968.

If you want to know what it looks like when the heroine of “The Red Spot” watches a nest of spiders erupt out of the overkích cỡ pimple on her cheek, or when the young sap of “Harold” finds himself turning inlớn a scarecrow, with straw shooting out of his mouth, toàn thân, và limbs, “Scary Stories” literalizes those moments quite handily. Yet there’s no aura to lớn them; the emotions of the stories have sầu been lost. We could be watching the standard ghoulish CGI effects that take place in any horror movie of the week.

The original tales in “Scary Stories” had an insidious, pre-truyền thông media homespun awe. In the film version of “Scary Stories,” they’re just momentary Grand Guignol tidbits — literally, in the case of “The Big Toe” — served up lượt thích the greachạy thử hits they are.

That may be enough to lớn satisfy the series’ multiple generations of fans. (It never seemed to bother the masses of “Harry Potter” readers that the film adaptations lacked the books’ magical screwpot Dickensian atmosphere.) Yet if you watch “Scary Stories khổng lồ Tell in the Dark” simply as the movie it is, what you’ll experience is a period teenage horror film at once wide-eyed and scattershot, one that never begins lớn sustain a mood, và that projects, a bit too callowly, its eagerness to lớn cash in on the thử nghiệm of “It” and “Stranger Things.” If the movie had simply been a collection of short tales, it might have sầu been effective sầu (though omnibus films are notoriously difficult to lớn bring off, or to lớn turn into hits). In attempting to lớn meld the stories together and give them some sketchy coherence, the movie basically becomes an extended framing device that’s larger than any of the stories in it.

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The action now pivots around Stella (the avidly captivating Zoe Colletti), a brainy high schooler who goes out on Halloween with her nerd friends & drops by a drive-in movie theater that’s playing “Night of the Living Dead” (the film opened on Oct. 1, 1968, making their casual familiarity with it possible, if none too plausible). She then leads them over khổng lồ the local haunted house, which was once occupied by the Bellows clan, whose daughter, Sarah Bellows, is presented as one of those Gothic sacrificial-lamb waif-demon girls whose abuse gave sầu rise khổng lồ the horror we’re now watching. In this case, that takes the size of a dusty book of horror stories, literally written in blood (though with very elegant script), that Stella steals from the mansion. As she opens the book’s pages, she sees that Sarah’s stories are literally writing themselves.

You’d think, in a movie adaptation of “Scary Stories khổng lồ Tell in the Dark,” that the first thing the filmmakers would want lớn bởi is re-create the squishy spectral look & aura of Stephen Gammell’s drawings. But just as the book series was re-issued, 30 years later, with a more conventional set of illustrations (to lớn great protest — the publisher than realized its mistake & went baông xã lớn the originals), the movie doesn’t totally embrace the Gammell vision. It’s true to lớn it, in a token way, with a grinning disembodied corpse that comes together in too hyperkinetic a fashion. But the only sequence that truly creeps is the one where Stella’s testy frikết thúc Chuông chồng (Austin Zajur) stands in a red-drenched hospital corridor và confronts, from every angle, a pale rotund ghoul with a peeled face — it’s lượt thích he’s seeing the Ghost of Jacob Marley crossed with the bathtub crone from “The Shining.” For a moment, you shudder. But that’s the only time that “Scary Stories lớn Tell in the Dark” puts the night baông chồng in nightmare.

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Film Review: ‘Scary Stories lớn Tell in the Dark’

Reviewed at AMC 34th Street, Thành Phố New York, Aug. 7, 2019. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 111 MIN.

Production:A Lionsgate release of a CBS Films, Entertainment One, 1212 Entertainment, Double Dare You Productions, Sean Daniel Company production. Producers: Guillermo del Toro, Sean Daniel, Jason F. Brown, J. Miles Dale, Elizabeth Grave. Executive sầu producers: Roberto lớn Grande, Joshua Long.Crew:Director: André Øvredal. Screenplay: Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman. Camera (color, widescreen): Roman Osin. Editor: Patrick Larsgaard. Music: Marco Beltrangươi, Anna Drubich.With:Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Abrams, Dean Norris, Gil Bellows, Lorraine Toussaint, Austin Zajur, Natalie Ganzhorn, Kathleen Pollard, Marie Ward. Music By: