Horror Club: Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark
If you are around my age and grew up loving horror like myself, there's a good chance that there are two book series that in the very least caught your eye, but more likely your heart - those being R. L. Stine's Goosebumps and Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark written by Alvin Schwartz and originally illustrated by Stephen Gammell. The Goosebumps franchise already received their two movie adaptations which were, you know, alright - but this weekend it was time for Scary Stories to finally hit theaters, and all I can say is wow. As a kid growing up, never did I think such an epic and intense adaptation to the series of short stories would ever come to fruition, and it warms my heart to report that the film is overwhelmingly awesome - creating a really creative way to incorporate the stories and characters into a bigger story. I was worried going into it that the film would lack any good horror elements or be underwhelming (like the Goosebumps movies - the new ones, not the series ones) but allow me to reassure you: Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark is one of the best Hollywood horror films you'll see this year; so good, in fact, I'm dying to see it again.
In case you somehow don't know the books, Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark are three books - released over the course of 1981 to 1991 - that contained short horror stories with some of the most haunting artwork you could see as a child. In the age before Instagram, it was the covers of these books that would catch your eye and creep you out, further leading you to opening the cover and diving deep into this abyss of strange characters and haunting worlds. The film adaptation - directed by André Øvredal (who directed The Autopsy of Jane Doe) - essentially sees four outcast teenagers breaking into an abandoned house on Halloween night 1968 where a dark family history is contained: the family had an albino daughter who they kept locked up in the confines of the basement, where she could never see the light of day. Neighborhood children would come to the other side of the wall and the daughter would tell them scary stories through the wall, which would ultimately lead to the children disappearing off the face of the Earth. The films main characters - Stella, Ramon, Auggie and Chuck - make it down into the room the woman was locked away in, and Sella finds the book that contained all of the short horror stories that the albino woman Sarah would tell. As the children dreadfully find out, Sarah is able to continue writing stories into the book from beyond the grave, and as the stories come to live, the teens begin disappearing one by one - just like the urban legend told. Monsters spring to life to haunt the teens and bring them to their demise, and the scary stories that were being written in the book would be the teens doom. It ends up being up to the remaining living teens to put an end to Sarah's damning story telling once and for all.
Part of what makes this film so damn good is that its minor stories that make up the major story all feel like genuine Scary Stories clips - with some even truly being based off the books. Every character gets their own story that has their name in it, so over the course of the movie you're being exposed to a handful of stories that make up the bigger picture. From the monsters themselves to the messed up situations (without giving too much away), Scary Stories contains some excellent storytelling that honestly does justice to the books - which is exactly what we wanted to see with this film adaptation. The stories are fun, twisted, and haunting - exactly like Alvin Schwartz had written decades ago - and the visuals certainly pay an excellent nod to illustrator Stephen Gammell's haunting paintings. The writers created a really creative umbrella story that justifies bringing all of the minor stories to life, and it warms my heart to say that the visuals can be disturbing as fuck; that's right, they legitimately went full-on horror movie with jump scares, light gore, and terrifying beasts. It really does feel like the books brought to life, and that's all we really wanted with this movie, to be honest. Everything is pretty stellar - from the storytelling to the acting to the visuals - and I can't say it enough: this movie turned out breathtakingly awesome. Fans both old and new of the books will undoubtedly appreciate the nods to the classic collections, and horror fans will certainly love the genres elements brought into the film. It's honestly a must-see film before it leaves theaters - and it's refreshing to report that these scary stories will follow you home with you, just like the books did to us growing up.