Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, A Thrilling Instant Classic

Jay Marren, Staff Writer

“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” has to be one of the most refreshing horror movies to come out this year. This movie perfectly blends the elements of classic horror as well as adding in hints of the elements that a lot of new horror films are praised for. This film’s excellent story, characters, sound, direction, and use of practical and special effects help make this a horror classic that can be watched every year on Halloween.

The story of “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” follows teenager Stella (played by Zoe Margaret Colletti) and the other townspeople that inhabit the city of Mill Valley, Pennsylvania on Halloween night. Stella convinces her group of friends to visit the haunted house of the city which sparked the legend of Sarah Bellows. Sarah was known to be a girl locked in her house by her family as she was deemed horrendous to look at to the point that she was called a monster. When the Bellows residence used to be inhabited by the family, kids would go to the wall outside the house where Sarah’s room was located and ask her to tell them a scary story. These kids soon after disappeared without a trace. After some digging, Stella and her friends find the book and leave the house. The same night Stella tweaks with the book, the stories themselves began to physically manifest as it hunts down every one of Stella friends that were in the house that night. This story really adds nostalgia as it recreates some of the stories that many children have read.

Another one of the film’s strong points is its characters. Stella is one of the strongest points of this film because she has an emotional and troubling backstory that no other character has. Most of this is because of how she deals with every plot point in the story, as well as scenes where she interacts with her father, depicting a very human response thinking about what would happen to her family if she didn’t survive. The film focuses mainly on the main character Stella while building the backstory of her character as well as building her relationship with the new boy Ramón. Ramón (played by Michael Garza) is one of the strongest characters in the film with his backstory of why he moved to Mill Valley. Without going into spoilers, this film shines a light on some serious societal issues that still happen to this day.

On the production side of things, this movie is extremely well made. With its direction by Andre Øvredal, this film was meant to embody what made Alvin Schwartz’ original stories stand out. He simply could not have done it better. This film was also produced by the master of modern horror Guillermo Del Toro. Famous for his direction of the Oscar winning “The Shape of Water,” Del Toro masterfully adds the dark tone and atmosphere of Mill Valley. Adding to the frightening appeal, the sound design by Joe Dzuban is expertly made by fully embodying the different monsters, adding a unique authenticity to every monster.

Regarding how this movie was made, the use of special and practical effects are flawlessly done. With the effects done by Spectral Motion Productions, the details in every monster is thought out completely to be a realistic version of the original illustrations of Stephen Gammell. It looks as though the studio took the pictures right off the page and transferred to the screen. All of these practical effects were made by using the smallest bits of CGI but the monsters were character actors and contortionists in suits.

“Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark” is one of the most inventive and refreshing horror films of the year. Through creating this film’s excellent story, characters, sound, direction and use of practical and special effects, it blends the appeal of classic 1950’s monster movies and the new era of horror to make an intriguingly amazing film.