Back left
Back right

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Blu-ray Review

Monster-building extra makes this Blu-ray Special

Reviewed by on Nov 04, 2019
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is now out to take home. Can this Blu-ray become a Halloween classic to watch for years to come? Kidzworld’s review tells you why it’s cool.

In Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, it's 1968 America in tiny Mill Valley when four teens enter the local haunted house to find a book of stories written by a tortured young woman once locked up there by her own family. When the teens open the book, the scary stories start writing themselves then coming true!  Creepily enough, 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


All Hallows Eve Night

Smart, bookish 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) on Halloween night 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 end up running from Tommy through a drive-in movie theater and 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.

The tortured scarecrowThe tortured scarecrowCourtesy of CBS Films

Local Haunted House

Stella tells the 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.

The creepy ghost of SarahThe creepy ghost of SarahCourtesy of CBS Films

Stories of Terror

Ramon’s car is destroyed by Tommy so, with no place to sleep, 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 a character named Tommy and a certain scarecrow on his property. The next day, Tommy isn’t at school. 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.

Ramon and Stella find the scarecrowRamon and Stella find the scarecrowCourtesy of CBS Films

Horror Continues

Ruth notices a huge pimple on her cheek right before she is to star in the school play. Stella and her two friends 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 convinced spiders are attacking her. After learning that Sarah didn’t practice Black Magic, the kids go to the mental hospital where she actually died.

Ruth and the angry pimplRuth and the angry pimpleCourtesy of CBS Films

Records in the RED Room

The teens 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 female 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.

Chuck stalked in the Red RoomChuck stalked in the Red RoomCourtesy of CBS Films

Last 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?

Special Extra Features

This Blu-ray/DVD/Digital disc contains several interesting extras.

  • Dark Tales – Producer Guillermo del Toro and cast talk about urban legends and stories of horror that span generations. Several of them were adapted to make this film. The creatures were based on creepy drawings by Stephen Gammell in the original book. There are stories that can “hurt and heal”.
  • Retro Horror emphasizes the difference in teen lives today (cellphones, Google, etc.) vs. life in 1968 when both kids and adults relied more on face-to-face conversation and writing than texting etc. The teen actors talk about playing retro teens. Interesting.

Producer and Director with Stella actressProducer and Director with Stella actressCourtesy of CBS Films
  • The Bellows Construct is all about the real-life house used in the film; built in Ontario, Canada in the 1890’s. The Production Designer talks about dressing the real house to look abandoned and old inside and shooting there. Sets were also built to look like it. He even found real wallpaper with devils on it to use!  Neat!
  • Creatures From the Shadows is a detailed examination of the creation of all the many monsters in the film. All but one were created from the original drawings and with “suits” and/or prosthetics and worn by actors. The teens in the film were happy that there was something scary to act with on set rather than a tennis ball or nothing. A bit of CGI was added. We see the creatures in lighted rooms for a change in detail and meet who is inside. This is really cool and my fave extra!

Fat lady comes after ChuckFat lady comes after ChuckCourtesy of CBS Films
  • Mood Reels, seven of them, are just parts of the movie that the director shot to express various moods for different scenes.
  • Behind-the-Scenes Trailers: Set Visit takes you to the set for the drive-in scene and scenes shot at the asylum. You do feel like you are there on set. Fun!

Wrapping Up

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is creepy but not too scary for tweens and up. It serves as an entry-level horror film for those who might not realize that there are many familiar elements that are present in just about every horror movie. However, the monsters are great and very visually creative. “Scary” plays in part like a 1980’s Spielberg movie and that’s okay by me.

Drawing of the strange fat lady creatureDrawing of the strange fat lady creatureCourtesy of CBS Films

Extras on this disc are interesting. I especially loved the detailed featurette on the making of each creature and the one contrasting 1968 and 2019 teens. There is no filmmaker audio commentary and no blooper/gag reel. I always miss those when they aren’t included.

On a second look at the film and with the few interesting extras, I can go four stars. It would be fun to pull out this film every Halloween or just for a scary sleep-over anytime.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Blu-ray Rating: 4

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Blu-ray Review

Buy Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark starting Tuesday, November 5th

What Do You Think?

Will you be into keeping this horror film for future viewings? What sorts of monsters scare you most or is real life scary enough? Talk it up here or on your Kidzworld page!


By: Lynn Barker