Anytime you restrict horror/thriller movies from doing something, you’re automatically setting yourself a higher hurdle to get over. In the genre, one of the hardest things to overcome in pre-production is if the movie is supposed to be PG-13 and you need to make that still exciting to watch. Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark set out to do that as many films have suffered from it lately like previously reviewed The Turning and Fantasy Island, good thing is that it keeps the rhythm flowing and scares pretty surprisingly nasty. One thing to point out here at the start is that I’d never heard about the books this is based on so no comment of its faithfulness.
What I want to highlight about how I viewed the film is the fact that after watching it, there were reviews that mentioned bunch of rated R films which is a disservice. I didn’t think to do that, instead I focused on how younger crowd could perceive it. This checks a lot of boxes that I like to see PG horror check. There is some grimy practical effects executed by the make-up crew which is a nice reminder of classic horror films. The creatures look similar to the creepy original drawings and they are used creatively in the scenes, most memorable being the red room sequence. That sequence as well as the other ones use lighting sources well, not just having lights flicker and making the screen all black.
Scary Stories also moves from scene to scene in a rhythmic fashion, there isn’t really anything that drags and the build-ups to scares aren’t always just loud noises but here there is growing tension first created. Don’t get me wrong, it does at points use the generic jump-scare essentials but it isn’t overly done. The falling back to the expected is overall the small problem the movie has as it definitely doesn’t reinvent anything. That is though often a case when adapting something beloved so it’s hard to hold it against the film. The kid characters aren’t widely given enough depth to make the story exceptional but there is one well thought-out revelation about Ramon (Michael Garza) which fits the time period.
Smileys: Make-up, pacing, lighting
Frowneys: Issues with originality
Very good introduction to horror movies for younger people and doesn’t bore the older crowd unless you’re comparing it to raunchier stuff.