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Review: ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ is an Instant Horror Classic

August 8, 2019Ben MK

A darkened theatre can play host to many different kinds of movies, from action to comedy to drama. However, there's perhaps no genre better suited to playing on a big screen in a pitch black room than horror — and as Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark shows, a good scare is always in season.

Based on the beloved book series by Alvin Schwartz, the story follows a group of friends — Stella (Zoe Margaret Colletti), Chuck (Austin Zajur) and Auggie (Gabriel Rush) — who call the small Pennsylvania Township of Mill Valley home. It's Halloween night 1968, and when the teens find themselves incurring the wrath of local bully Tommy (Austin Abrams), they and a draft dodger named Ramón (Michael Garza) eventually end up exploring a purportedly haunted house, where they soon encounter one of Mill Valley's most terrifying legends.

Once the stately residence of the Bellows family, whose paper mill put the town on the map over a century ago, the house now lies abandoned, left to rot in a state of disrepair and decay. But even though the Bellows themselves may all be long gone, the rumors about their daughter, Sarah, who was disowned and locked away in the cellar, continue to remain very much a part of the town's narrative.

When the foursome stumble upon Sarah's book, full of disturbing — not to mention disturbingly prescient — tales penned personally by her, they unwittingly unleash a malevolent supernatural force determined to bring about a gruesome and untimely death for every one of them. Their only hope? To uncover the truth behind what happened to Sarah, or risk coming face to face with the flesh and blood manifestations of their own worst nightmares.

Think It meets Goosebumps, and you'll have a pretty solid idea of what director André Øvredal and producer Guillermo del Toro are going for here. Thankfully, what the film lacks in originality it more than makes up for with its memorable creature effects and terrifically creepy execution, making Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark an instant cult classic that's destined to be replayed at many a Halloween movie marathon to come.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark releases August 9th, 2019 from eOne Films. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for terror/violence, disturbing images, thematic elements, language including racial epithets, and brief sexual references. Its runtime is 1 hr. 51 min.

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