‘Scary Stories’ Is A Visually-Stunning, Nostalgic Romp That’s Light On Coherence

Aug 8, 2019, 1:14 PM | Updated: Aug 9, 2019, 7:50 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – If you’re old enough to get excited by the words “Scholastic Book Fair,” then you’re probably the target audience for “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.”

The movie is very loosely based on the book trilogy from the 80s and 90s that is more known for its iconic art than the actual scary stories. While the movie stays horrifyingly loyal to the imagery from the books, the narrative that tries to string the stories together leaves a bit to be desired.

The Film

Set in 1968, friends Stella (Zoe Margaret Colletti), Auggie (Gabriel Rush), and Chuck (Austin Zajur) are about to celebrate their last Halloween trick-or-treating. To commemorate the event, they’ve planned an epic act of revenge on town bully Tommy (Austin Abrams) who’s spent years stealing the kids’ candy.  After the deed is done, the three friends hide out in a drive-in movie theater where they meet mysterious Ramone (Michael Garza), who’s new to town.

LISTEN: Fan Effect

With their new friend in tow, the group makes one last Halloween trip to the town’s haunted house, which is supposedly haunted by a vengeful woman who liked to tell scary stories to children. The legend is if children ask Sarah Bellows to tell them a scary story, it will be the last story they ever hear.

It’s there the group discovers a book full of Sarah’s scary stories, and there’s more to it than just yellowing pages of tales written in red ink. And it’s that book that changes the lives of everyone in the group, including the town bully.

The Review

Let’s be honest. We’re all seeing “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” because we loved the nightmare-inducing artwork that impacted us so much as children. In that respect, this movie succeeds beyond expectations.

The images from stories like, “Harold,” “The Big Toe,” “The Red Spot,” “The Dream,” “Me Tie Dough-ty Walker” and “The Haunted House,” looked as though they jumped directly from the pages of the books and onto the big screen. The creatures were frightening, disturbing even, and they were the best part of “Scary Stories.”

How do you bring all these distinctive drawings to life through a cohesive narrative, though? Well, it’s difficult.

The plot was sadly convoluted, and it actually made very little sense. I’m willing to forgive it, though, because nightmares don’t make sense, either. And visually, this movie delivered an unforgettable nightmare.

The most memorable portions of “Scary Stories” come in the form of the Pale Lady from “The Dream” and the Jangly Man, a composite character from several stories, both of which have been seared into my brain and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

The Takeaway

If you’re willing to sit through some befuddling plot points and a resolution that doesn’t make a lick of sense, then you should definitely see “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” in the theaters. It’s fun seeing this visually stunning piece of art on the big screen, yes, but it’s even more fun witnessing everyone else’s reactions to some of the more disturbing elements.

If it makes enough money, we’ll probably see a sequel — perhaps even two. If nothing else, we will get to see even more of those horrifically awesome creatures from our childhoods come to life.

After all, that’s why we want to watch these movies, right?

“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” is rated PG-13 for terror and violence, disturbing images, thematic elements, language including racial epithets, and brief sexual references.

KSL 5 TV Live


Beyoncé is pictured at the 2024 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.
Mandatory Credit:	Kevin Mazur/Getty ...

Alli Rosenbloom, CNN

Beyoncé debuts at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and makes history

Beyoncé’s new song “Texas Hold ‘Em” debuted in the top spot of Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart on Tuesday.

2 hours ago

FILE - Portrait of British pop group The Beatles (L-R) Paul McCartney, George Harrison (1943 - 2001...

Jake Coyle, AP Film Writer

Beatles to get a Fab Four of biopics, with a movie each for Paul, John, George and Ringo

The Beatles are getting the big-screen biopic treatment in a Fab Four of movies that will give each band member their own film.

2 hours ago

Cillian Murphy, winner of the leading actor award for 'Oppenheimer', poses for photographers at the...

Jill Lawless, The Associated Press

‘Oppenheimer’ wins seven prizes, including best picture, at the British Academy Film Awards

Atom bomb epic “Oppenheimer” won seven prizes, including best picture, director and actor, at the 77th British Academy Film Awards on Sunday, cementing its front-runner status for the Oscars next month.

2 days ago

FILE - Paul McCartney performs during his "Got Back" tour on June 16, 2022, at MetLife Stadium in E...

Brian Melley, The Associated Press

Paul McCartney’s stolen bass is found and returned more than 50 years later

Paul McCartney no longer gently weeps for his original bass guitar. A five-year search by the manufacturer of the instrument that was aided by a husband-and-wife team of journalists helped reunite The Beatles star with the distinctive violin-shaped 1961 electric Höfner that went missing a half century ago and is estimated to be worth 10 million pounds ($12.6 million).

3 days ago

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 18: Frankie Muniz, driver of the #30 Hair Club Ford, waits on the...

Mark Long, AP Sports Writer

‘Malcolm in the Middle’ star Frankie Muniz back at Daytona and rising up the NASCAR racing ladder

Actor Frankie Muniz will try to make his Xfinity Series debut in the No. 35 Ford for Joey Gase Racing at Daytona International Speedway.

4 days ago

#BacontoPayson displayed on a cork board in Payson High School...

Brianna Chavez

Payson High School celebrates 40 years of Footloose, inviting Kevin Bacon to upcoming prom

Payson High students took to social media to campaign for Kevin Bacon to return to the school, 40 years after Footloose was released.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

‘Scary Stories’ Is A Visually-Stunning, Nostalgic Romp That’s Light On Coherence