Film review: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Shadows loom in streets filled by children out past curfew. It’s Halloween, 1968, in the small town of Mill Valley, Pennsylvania. Where scary stories lead to an even scarier reality.

Based on the Alvin Sharwtz book by the same name, ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ follows a young avid writer Stella and her friends as they find a book only believed to exist in ghost stories, filled with tales that soon write themselves. Directed by André Øvredal and written by Dan and Kevin Hageman and produced by Guillermo del Toro, ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ captures the audience with its eerie charm and chilling play on childhood fears.

The performances by Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Zajur, Natalie Ganzhorn, Austin Abrams, Dean Norris, Gil Bellows, and Lorraine Toussaint are touching, yet comical in places, reflecting the stereotypical teen clichés commonly used in campy horror flicks.

Øvredal and del Toro pool their talents to create a tense yet measured atmosphere that embraces the cosy spirit of autumn and contrasts it with the chilling confines of haunted houses and psychiatric hospitals, conjuring up monsters that toy with our own paranoia and superstitions. Well composed, with a moody colour palette and nostalgic aesthetic, and accompanied by a suitably creepy soundtrack, ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ is an enjoyable, spirited thrill, filled with tears and fears that’ll leave the faint of heart dreading October.

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