“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” is a horror movie directed by Andre Ovredal and is based on a series children’s books by Alvin Schwartz. Dan and Kevin Hageman wrote the screenplay with Guillermo Del Toro contributing to the story idea alongside Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan. The cast includes of younger unknown actors such as Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, and Gabriel Rush. Dean Norris and Gil Bellows were the only performers I kind of recognized.
So the films takes the audience back to 1968 Pennsylvania in a small town where there is a haunted house with the troubling legend of the Bellows family. The spirit of Sarah Bellows is said to tell frightening stories to children, however the stories she tells come to life. She was held captive by her own family who allowed her to be accused of poisoning children. A young girl named Stella is the lead protagonist as she and her friends go into the long abandoned and dilapidated house, finding the book of stories written in blood. Sarah was said to have been kept in a locked room behind a bookcase. Anyway, Stella finds the book and pretty soon, the town bully has disappeared after being menaced by a spooky scarecrow.
I have often been consistently critical of this genre for its predictability and shallow characters, however this piece is almost an exception. Some of the plot threads and cast of characters were rather familiar, but not overly so. I don’t remember hearing much about the series of books by Alvin Schwartz, so I could enjoy the film without making the comparisons to the source material and grumbling about the artistic liberties.
Del Toro having involvement probably helped quite a bit in the way of originality in the imagery and overall story. Del Toro is one of those movie makers that tends to pique my curiosity with unerring consistency.
Although once again, as predicted, I would hesitate to consider this a major feat of cinematic ingenuity, it turned out to be a pretty entertaining afternoon diversion, which is a major victory for the horror genre. Most of the other entries in this area of cinematic entertainment tend to lead to all too familiar disappointment.