Movie Review: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) - IMDb

credit: Scary movies to Tell in the Dark

This movie could have been better; that just needs to be said. The idea was sound, and the execution wasn’t too bad, but the dialogue was mediocre, and the impact of each creature was so quick that the audience barely had a chance to think about them before the movie was forced to advance without a proper explanation. It’s fair to say that the movie only suffered a little bit when it came to the decision to use the monsters for such brief periods of time, especially since the main issue was the ghost that was creating each creature to serve her purpose, which was outright mayhem. The only problem was that only one of her victims actually deserved what she did to them unless the audience was prepared to look at this movie from several different viewpoints. The point is that when Stella and her friends unwittingly set a ghost free from her place of confinement, they bring a curse down on their own heads without knowing what the heck they’re doing or what type of spirit they’re tampering with. 

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark' review | CNN

credit: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Making the main protagonist a writer with a personal crisis is an interesting choice. 

Anytime a main character is a writer, it brings to mind a sense of irony as well as a belief that things will come as close to possible as being meta, but this movie ends up skirting that edge while still remaining well within the narrative in order to tell the story. When it’s revealed that Stella is a writer but is having trouble telling her own stories, one can easily tell that this is going to come into play at one point or another in the movie since the foreshadowing is enough to make a person think that writing will be a valuable skill to have when it comes to a vengeful ghost that’s using a storybook to create the torturous punishments in this story. Of course, turning one of the characters into a writer can have different effects depending on which direction the story is supposed to go in. 

This movie shows how spirits can be indiscriminate when it comes to their victims.

This is a big ‘duh’ when it comes to horror movies since a lot of ghosts/spirits tend to be like spiritual TNT when it comes to their effects on the living, as some are jealous of what they’ve lost, some are vengeful toward those who are still living, and others have reasons to be violent that are simply hard to figure out since they might just be unstoppable killers that don’t need motivation. Sarah Bellows, the spirit that is writing the stories that end up killing three young men and terrorizing anyone who comes in contact with her storybook, is one of those spirits who lashes out without caring who she’s harming,  One might think that most ghosts would fit this description, but after watching so many horror movies, it’s fair to assume that not every ghost is willing to target people randomly. Unfortunately for Stella and her friends, they found themselves in the path of a ghost that was all about punishing those who may or may not have deserved it, as her anger had a definite target but was bound to smother those who stepped in her path. 

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark video features classic monsters | EW.com

credit: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Playing on the fears of the affected is a fairly common trope. 

While this wasn’t necessarily the overall theme of the movie, one could argue that it was useful since Tommy’s disdain toward the scarecrow in his family’s cornfield came back to haunt him, while Auggie and Chuck’s own fears were released to plague them. Even Ramon’s fear of the Jangly Man was used against him, though Stella’s quick thinking managed to save her and Ramon. Using something a person fears to trouble or attack them is fairly common, but it’s also low-hanging fruit in a horror movie since it doesn’t require as much effort to make it work. With that in mind, though, it does offer a way to aggravate such fears since without knowing too much about a character, there is the need to figure out what will help to flesh them out within a story so that people can relate to them. 

It feels as though this story could continue forward with enough ambition. 

Ambition would be enough to create a sequel to this movie, as Stella already stated that she needed a way to rescue Auggie and Chuck, but it would require a solid story to make it work, especially if Sarah Bellows had been laid to rest, or at least placated for the time being. Plus, it might be interesting to think of a way to tell Sarah’s story, as Stella promised, so that people would finally realize she was innocent and more than that, so they would care. 

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