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Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark Movie Review

Is the film based on the books scary enough?

Reviewed by on Aug 09, 2019
Rating: 3 Star Rating

Kidzworld saw Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Can you relate to the characters? Is it scary but not an over-the-top freak out? Is it anything like the books? Check out our movie review.

By: Lynn Barker

In Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark it's 1968 America and the emphasis is on civil rights and the Vietnam War but in little Mill Valley four teens discover that the local haunted house is full of….creepy stories in the form of a book written in blood by a tortured girl locked up there. When the friends find the book, the stories start coming true, then writing themselves before their eyes. Biggest shocker is that there is a story for each of the young friends and each story means death for its main character. Can the pals stop the stories and solve the mystery of the author before everyone is dead?

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark Trailer


Halloween Night

On Halloween, young teen Stella Nicholls (Zoe Margaret Colletti) and her besties Chuck Steinburg (Austin Zajur) and Auggie Hilderbrandt (Gabriel Rush) decide to get even with town bully Tommy (Austin Abrams) by egging his car and tossing poo at him. Tommy and his homies are busy abusing a weird-looking scarecrow on Tommy’s family’s farm. Later Stella and pals egg Tommy’s car and, running through a drive-in movie theater, jump in the car of stranger Ramon Morales (Michael Garza) who is attracted to Stella right away. Tommy and gang find the group but a drive-in worker chases them away. Tommy swears revenge.

Scarecrow HaroldScarecrow Harold

The Haunted House

Stella knows all about the creepy legend of Sarah Bellows who lived in an old local house with her family in the 1800’s. For some reason, they imprisoned her in the basement where she used to tell local kids scary stories through a wall to the outside. Kids have disappeared there along with all of Sarah’s family. Once inside, Chuck sees a room inhabited by an old lady and Stella finds Sarah’s secret room prison and an old journal full of Sarah’s stories written in blood.  Sarah is supposed to have hanged herself. Tommy, who is dating Chuck’s sister Ruth (Natalie Ganzhorn) arrives, shoves Ruth in the room and locks everyone in. Later, after Stella starts reading the book, the door opens by itself.

A story comes trueA story comes true

The Stories Begin

After Ramon’s car, where he evidently lives, is destroyed by Tommy, Ramon goes home with Stella to sleep in her basement but when they look at the old book and start reading a story, it comes to life. It’s called “Harold” and concerns Tommy and a certain scarecrow on his property. The next day, Tommy isn’t at school. The kid in the story was named Tommy. While the local Sheriff voices his racist opinions to poor Ramon, Stella returns the book to the old Bellows house only to find it on her shelf when she gets home! As Ramon and Stella watch, words in blood start appearing in the book…a new story called “The Big Toe” centers in on Auggie who is home alone. Later, Stella and Ramon find his fingernail scratches under his bed. No Auggie.

Something is inside Ruth's pimpleSomething is inside Ruth's pimpleCourtesy of CBS Films

More Stories

At home, Ruth, who is about to appear in the school play, notices a huge pimple on her cheek. Stella and the two guys left go to the library to research Sarah and the Bellows family. After Sarah’s death, the whole family, who ran a paper mill in town, disappeared. Sarah may have learned Black Magic. Another story “The Red Spot”  starts writing itself. It’s about Ruth and her angry pimple. There is something inside the zit. Stella and the boys find Ruth screaming in the girls’ room at school and rescue her but she is quite crazy now. After learning that Sarah didn’t practice Black Magic, the kids go to the mental hospital where she actually died.

Chuck is stalked by the creepy, pale womanChuck is stalked by the creepy, pale womanCourtesy of CBS Films

The Records

The kids sneak into an old medical records room as another story “The Red Room” starts writing itself. Chuck stays behind and, in a story called “The Dream”, he is stalked by a weird, very fat entity that appears finally to absorb him.  Stella and Ramon find out that Sarah learned something evil about her family and started telling everyone she met. That is when the family locked her away. Stella and Ramon are put in the local jail for breaking into the confidential medical records. Stella learns that Ramon is on the run. He was drafted for the war but ran away because his brother had just died in Vietnam.

Scary pale lady is after ChuckScary pale lady is after Chuck

Final Stories

Ramon’s story concerns a dismembered ghoulish man who re-assembles in front of the racist Sheriff and kills him. Stella and Ramon escape but are separated with Stella going to the Bellows house to try to get ghostly Sarah to stop creating stories to kill people. What will happen at the house? Can Stella ever convince Sarah to be at rest? Will she and Ramon survive?

Ramon and Stella find the scarecrowRamon and Stella find the scarecrow

Wrapping Up

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is creepy but not too scary for tweens and up. It is visually creative and the filmmakers tried to create their monsters from the original artwork in the novels the film is based upon.  Part of the movie plays like a 1980’s Spielberg kid-driven movie which is fine but the problem is that there is nothing really new. Some happenings and basic stories are cliché and familiar to most horror movies although some have a nice twist. Stories come to life much as they do in the “Goosebumps” series but with a bit more of an evil/creepy flavor. The film is a series of short stories that are woven together with one major storyline. There is enough relatable timeless humor among the friends to make the 1960’s characters relatable to today’s tweens and teens

Zoe who plays Stella with filmmakersZoe who plays Stella with filmmakersCourtesy of CBS Films

Oddly timely after the recent racist murders of Latinos in El Paso, Texas is Ramon being called a “wetback” and being picked on my the local racist Sheriff. The cute Latino is one of the film’s heroes however so maybe this works out.

“Scary Stories” serves as an entry-level horror film for younger kids who might not realize that there are many familiar elements that are present in just about every horror film. If you are a fan of the novels, you might get more out of the cinema version. We go three stars.

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark Movie Review: 3

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark Movie PosterCourtesy of CBS Films

See Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark in theaters now!

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