Over the weekend I managed to catch a screening of new horror movie, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. I say “managed to catch a screening” because I’ve been busy as of late and I am aware the movie has been out for at least a week in the UK (even longer in the US).
If I hadn’t watched it over the weekend then chances are I would not have managed to see it at the cinema at all, as it appears to have been dumped into the tail-end of the summer, rather than held over until Halloween. This seems pretty odd to me, especially as the film takes place around the spooky season.
Anyway, the film has now been watched and my thoughts are laid out below. But before I get to that, for those who are unfamiliar with Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, here is a quick synopsis.
Based on the Scary Stories books by Alvin Schwartz, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark follows a group of teens who discover a book containing horror tales. Each of these tales is a dark story with a grisly conclusion.
Soon the book starts creating new stories involving the teens. It then becomes a race against time to uncover the truth behind the stories, and close the chapter on this nightmarish novella.
OK, so that’s what the film is about, but was it any good?
I really like the books that this film is based on and I really want to tell you that this movie does the books justice – but I can’t. While Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark isn’t a particularly bad film, it is sadly a big disappointment.
First and foremost, it’s not scary. Oh, it has its moments, but just as I was nearing the edge of my seat, waiting to slip into a panic attack, the frights simply ran out of steam.
I saw this movie with my husband, who squirmed in his seat a couple of times, but the squirming was brief at best. Why? Because every time the movie took a step towards the real horror of a situation (a hoard of spiders, a scarecrow come to life) it would stop short at the very last minute.
I kept willing the film to give me just a little more – to push the boundaries and live up to the name of ‘scary stories’, but it didn’t. Anyone going into this movie and expecting to be terrified will be sadly disappointed.
But that’s not the only problem with the film, another failing is that it is too long and too slow. It takes far too long to get going and by the time that the story really starts to kick in, there’s the increasing sense that everything is going to play out by the numbers.
By the latter half of the movie I was willing the story to reach a conclusion. Not because I was completely bored (although I was getting there), but because I knew it was simply not living up to its potential and was never going to.
I’m also unsure who this film is aimed at? It’s too adult for kids, yet not dark enough for adults. The film falls somewhere in the middle and by doing so only leaves the teen crowd to really show any interest in it and I don’t know if they care when the likes of Spider-Man: Far From Home and Hobbs and Shaw are still playing in movie theatres.
Ultimately, my biggest sticking point with this film is that it has been done before – in fact, quite recently and in a much better way. The better version is Goosebumps, the 2015 Jack Black movie which told a similar story but did it in a much more appealing way.
OK, so Goosebumps wasn’t scary in the slightest, but it was never trying to be. Instead, it presented a fun, yet still spooky tale, that was perfect for Halloween (and every Halloween that has followed since its release).
I’m afraid that Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark won’t be wheeled out every Halloween. Heck, it’s not even going to make it to Halloween 2019, so I have little hope of it becoming a holiday classic.
I’ve seen lots of films in 2019, some have been good, many have been bad. Scary Stories certainly doesn’t fall into the bad category, but I can’t slot it into the good category either.
Scary Stories should have been better. It’s fine to watch, but it’s pretty forgettable.