By DAVID LEE ZAMORA
Special to the PARADE
Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark is a fun, cheesy, creature-feature film that manages to fit the fun, yet chilling, stories from the books of the same name into its simple plot. Before watching this film, I was worried that it would be a run-of-the-mill cash grab, but Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark managed to surpass my expectations, even with its flaws.
The film is about four teenagers who break into an abandoned mansion on Halloween night, while running from a racist bully named Tommy Milner (Austin Abrams). While in the mansion, one of the teens, Stella Nicholls (Zoe Margaret Colleti), finds a mysterious book belonging to the mansion’s previous occupant Sarah Bellows ( Kathleen Pollard). The stories come to life and endanger the four protagonists.
The film doesn’t have much on the acting category, except for Roy Nicholls, played by Dean Norris, mostly known for Hank Schrader on the Breaking Bad series, and Chuck Steinberg (Austin Zajur), one of the four protagonists. Roy shows great emotion when talking to Stella over the phone in one of the film’s final scenes. Chuck’s character is okay, but a scene where he’s being chased by a creature, from a story titled “The Pale Lady,” through the halls of a hospital, is fantastic, and was one of my favorite parts of the film. The chase is particularly disturbing, because Chuck cannot avoid the Pale Lady, regardless which hall he turns in: she’s there. This scene stood out the most in the entire film.
The monsters in the film are all CGI, which is something I am not a fan of, due to the lack of realism, but the film does make the Jangly Man monster, from the story “Me Tie Dough-ty Walker” feel incredibly frightening: his distorted body and cries of pain after every time he moves are truly disturbing. Some of the other monsters don’t really move, only popping up for a jumpscare, or just float around looking scary.
Like I mentioned earlier, the film does have its downsides, mostly consisting of bad lines and constant jumpscares. One line in particular, after the group attempts to burn Bellows’ book, Stella says,“you don’t read the book, the book reads you,” just shows the cheese that flows from this film at times. To some this is okay, but it tends takes me out of the film and makes it more of a comedy than a horror. The jumpscares ruin a lot of the film’s better moments. For example, when Chuck jumps and scares Stella, it’s just cheap and adds nothing to the film. Besides the films few and cheesy flaws, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark did the best with its source material, connecting the stories well enough to make fun and scary film.