There was quite a lot of nostalgic hype for Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark when it was coming out. Well put together trailers, books come to life, all of that.
Now, unfortunately for me I never read the stories so I didn’t ride the hype train. Fortunately for me, I am a critic and shouldn’t read the source material first. I definitely read some other non-Goosebump series of stories in 3rd or 4th grade, that had sequels, but I couldn’t recall those titles.
Despite that, it looked really good from the trailers from what I saw. A horror movie aimed at families and kids, without relying on slapstick jokes every other sentence. Kids should have entryways into horror, and this looked like something I would show my own family and creep them the heck out.
Ah, a haunted house, how original.
This small town is like many others. Notably white, jocks can do whatever they want, rampant racism, and more.
So our main group of friends (Zoe Margaret Colletti, Austin Zajur, Gabriel Rush) run into this Hispanic dude from outside of the town (Michael Garza), and because he helped them, they are now best buds.
And so of course they take him to the local haunted house, what else are they supposed to do so close to Halloween? And sure enough, they find a secret passage, maybe a torture room, one with a nice book. So our lead takes the book to read later!
And weirdly enough, the book begins to write stories so she can read a long. This seems to match up with some kids disappearing. Very scary. Oh no, are they all going to die now?
I couldn’t tell you why this was scary, but it did look fun.
I will give this movie props for one thing. It killed off kids and/or made them disappear forever, and we do not get a resolution out of that. Oh they tease a sequel on trying to fix it, sure, but no in movie resolution. Those. Kids. Are. Dead.
And most of the kids in the movie, outside of the bully, are main characters! They didn’t just kill off a lot of side kids and leave our fab four, no, they were gutted as well. And movies for this age group rarely do that. Since this movie is based on an anthology of short horror stories, they could have done whatever they wanted, and they went the darkest timeline.
And yet, for me, it did bore me a lot at times. The stories were okay. I’m sure they were ones in the book. But they didn’t do a lot in order to make them super relevant to each other or the plot, but instead random happenings and creeps. Some of them were based on their real life town, some based on stories they heard as a kid, and some based on absolutely nothing. They could have done a lot better job at meshing them together.
Overall, this film had a singular goal as far as I can tell, besides nostalgia money. They wanted to scare my kids, and yes, they did succeed at that.