Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

2019  0 MN

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark on IMDb
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André Øvredal

 Release Date

August 9, 2019

 Top Billed Cast

 Zoe Colletti
 Stella Nicholls
 Michael Garza
 Ramón Morales
 Gabriel Rush
 Auggie Hilderbrandt
 Austin Abrams
 Tommy Milner
 Dean Norris
 Roy Nicholls
 Gil Bellows
 Chief Turner

 Written by

Marcus Dunstan Screenstory
Guillermo del Toro Screenstory
Dan Hageman Screenplay
Kevin Hageman Screenplay
Alvin Schwartz Novel



Zoe Colletti
  Stella Nicholls
Michael Garza
  Ramón Morales
Gabriel Rush
  Auggie Hilderbrandt
Austin Abrams
  Tommy Milner
Dean Norris
  Roy Nicholls
Gil Bellows
  Chief Turner
Austin Zajur
  Chuck Steinberg
Natalie Ganzhorn
  Ruth Steinberg
Lorraine Toussaint
  Lou Lou
Deborah Pollitt
  Mrs. Steinberg
Victoria Fodor
  Mrs. Milner
Marie Ward
  Mrs. Hilderbrandt
Mark Steger
  Harold the Scarecrow / Pale Lady
Javier Botet
  Big Toe Corpse
Troy James
  Jangly Man
Will Corno
Kyle Labine
  Deputy Hobbs
David Tompa
Karen Glave
  Claire Baptiste
Stephanie Belding
  Reception Nurse
Hume Baugh
  Deodat Bellows
Jane Moffat
  Delanie Bellows
Amanda Smith
  Gertrude Bellows
Rodrigo Fernandez- Stoll
  Drive-in Manager
Alex Spencer
  Orderly #1
Colton Gobbo
  Letterman #2
Lyndon B. Johnson
  Himself (archive footage)
Richard Nixon
  Himself (archive footage)
Walter Cronkite
  Himself (archive footage)


Marco Beltrami
  Original Music Composer
David Brisbin
  Production Design
Sean Daniel
Marcus Dunstan
Guillermo del Toro
Guillermo del Toro
Ruth Myers
  Costume Designer
Roman Osin
  Director of Photography
Brandt Gordon
  Art Direction
Colin Penman
  Makeup Department Head
Jacky Cheung
  Co-Executive Producer
J. Miles Dale
J. Miles Dale
  Unit Production Manager
Joshua Long
  Executive Producer
Howard Paar
  Music Supervisor
André Øvredal
Rich Delia
  Casting Director
Dan Hageman
Kevin Hageman
Mary Arthurs
  Property Master
George Kraychyk
  Still Photographer
Colin Hoult
  Second Unit Director of Photography
Joe Dzuban
  Sound Designer
Jill Purdy
  Supervising Sound Editor
Dug Rotstein
  Script Supervisor
J.R. Fountain
  Supervising Sound Editor
Michael L. Hall
Patrick Larsgaard
Andrew Tay
  Sound Re-Recording Mixer
Cliona Furey
  Hair Department Head
Patricia Larman
  Set Decoration
Steve Hammond
  Foley Artist
Myron Hoffert
  First Assistant Director
Glen Gauthier
  Sound Mixer
Regina Robb
  Production Manager
Alvin Schwartz
Jason F. Brown
Roberto Grande
  Executive Producer
Elizabeth Grave
Erika Schengili-Roberts
  Sound Mixer
Greg Chapman
  Sound Mixer
Geoff Hill
  Special Effects Coordinator
Sorin Popescu
  Set Designer
Tyler Delben
  Second Assistant Director
Darren McGuire
  Stunt Coordinator
Anna Drubich
  Original Music Composer
Alex Ginno
  Executive Producer


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This might be the very first film of 2019, which I knew absolutely nothing about going into the theater. Usually, I avoid trailers for most movies, but it’s almost impossible to not catch an image or a clip here and there. However, for Scary Stories, since it wasn’t heavily marketed in my country (at least), the only things I knew was that Guillermo del Toro was involved and that it was a horror flick. Knowing del Toro, I also remembered myself that this wouldn’t just be a straightforward horror story, filled with predictable jump scares, and a bland narrative. That’s my first advice to my fellow readers: if you expect a film similar to those of The Conjuring Universe, then you’ll be disappointed.

It’s also not the other extreme. It doesn’t follow the ambiguity and weirdness of Jordan Peele’s installments, so if you’re one of those people that don’t appreciate that type of horror, you’re safe as well. Having in mind the latest movies released from the genre, it’s hard to find one that balances these two separate takes instead of choosing one of them. Scary Stories spends its first half slow-building their characters, but mainly its story. There’s a massive build-up to something that’s pretty much the premise of the film, so it struggles to reach the actual “action” without it becoming a tad boring or too long. It’s a “breath of fresh air” (in the genre, I mean) to have a good set up, with decent character development, and an exponential interest in the main story, instead of jumping into silly horror sequences fifteen minutes after it started.

André Øvredal does an excellent job in directing. He really knows how to generate suspense and create a genuinely creepy build-up. There’s tremendous camera work involved in some fantastic sequences that don’t rely on jump scares to provide the “fear” factor. It’s the never-ending suspense, that feeling of claustrophobia even if the character isn’t in a confined space. Except for one scene, we can always see what’s happening. The “monsters” don’t appear out of nowhere, they don’t screech at you precisely at the third time a character looks another way, and the actual jump scares are rather efficient. However, they’re not scary, as well as the movie itself…

It’s not simply a scary film. It doesn’t have that heavy and dark tone that we feel in other horror movies. At first, I thought it might be a bad thing, but Scary Stories establishes this distinct tone from the very beginning. Even without knowing a single thing about the film, I understood from the first few minutes that it was going to be “different”. I would advise caution to not judge this movie by its trailers if they indicate that this is one of those films to make you scream every five minutes. There’s definitely a message to be transmitted, and I think it was well-delivered in the ending. It might be too cheesy for some or lack impact for a movie that asks the audience for a bit of patience, but for me, it worked well enough.

The acting is mostly good. Zoe Colletti (Stella) and Michael Garza (Ramon) are undoubtedly the standouts, and they do a good job of carrying the narrative forward. They both have compelling backstories, but for the time that the film spends developing its characters, I wish they went more in-depth with Stella. She has a particularly intriguing past, and I don’t think we get enough out of it. Gabriel Rush (Auggie) and Austin Zajur (Chuck) have great chemistry, but their comic-relief roles are a disservice to an otherwise pretty solid movie.

Technically, there are some beautiful shots from the DP, Roman Osin. Usually, sequences at night in low-budget films suffer a lot with lack of clear visibility, but Osin does a remarkable job, playing with lighting in a truly unique way. I’m curious to know what audiences will think of this movie. If I had to bet, I think people will leave disappointed due to the lack of more generic jump scares, and a straightforward narrative. Truth be told, the slow pacing doesn’t help, especially when the character development only works for two. Finally, the “scary stories” that Sarah tells are entertaining and imaginative, and the whole concept of this film is incredibly captivating.

All in all, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a distinct horror flick, with well-developed leads, and a creative approach to an unique premise. It doesn’t follow the rules of generic horror, by not relying itself too much on jump scares, and making the actual story and characters the main interest. Beautifully-produced by Guillermo del Toro and co. as well as brilliantly directed by André Øvredal. The “scary stories” are indeed dark and creepy, providing a whole second-half of excellent horror scenes.

However, the first-half takes its time to set everything up, and the lack of more “action” might leave some viewers disappointed. Only two characters are genuinely engaging, which proves that the slow build-up didn’t entirely pay off as it should have. It’s meant to be a divisive movie, but I definitely recommend seeing it!

Rating: B-


There’s just enough scares to appeal to the under-15s with disposable income, but very little for anyone else looking to get into the real Halloween spirit. ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ has the potential to be really unique, but is let down by its blandness and lack of originality. Yes, there’s a hint at a sequel at the end of the film, but I hope for our sake that the book is closed on any more of these scary stories.
- Charlie David Page

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