Dir; Andre Ovredal. Starring; Zoe Margaret Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush. PG-13. Color. 111 min.
“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” is a mess from start to finish. The acting is not awful because it’s intentional, it is bad for trying to be bad intentionally. References to the divided climate of the 1960’s, which we are bombarded with, are completely out of place. “Scary Stories” is a midnight SyFy channel picture at best that disguises itself as having something to say. I would have preferred the latest “Sharknado” installment. At least that series is honest about what it is.
The film begins on Halloween in 1968. All of the teenage horror stereotypes begin. Small town, asshole football players, corn mazes, stupid blondes. Our main character Stella (Zoe Margaret Colletti) befriends a hispanic drive-thru burger joint worker who is ridiculed by the football players named Ramon (Michael Garza). The pair, along with two other friends, break into a haunted house and find a mysterious book that writes stories about gruesome murders as they happen.
The football kids are lead by star quarterback Tommy (Austin Abrams, who needs to choose a different career besides acting, perhaps modeling). This group is the first to go, victims of a scarecrow come to life that they have tormented all summer. Stella tries to ditch the book but for some reason it will not leave her. From there we get gross with the toe of a dead woman in a pot of soup, a spider growing into a blonde girl’s cheek, a fat monstrous women (I think) chasing down a kid in a hospital that suddenly becomes red, and a poorly done CGI monster that can bend and break any limb at will.
During all of this town sheriff Turner (Gil Bellows) does not believe our heroes having been involved with all of these mysterious murders, which leads to the climactic showdown with the play dough monster. Eventually the creator of the book is revealed. I will not say who it is, but I will say that this person is defeated by one of the worst monologues by the main character in history. Literally killed by words. Sticks and stones I guess.
Let us also not forget all of the Nixon history stuff. What does that have to do with anything going on? They are constant. Maybe the filmmakers were trying to tie in some ‘writing their own narrative’ reference. I would guess they’re explanation of how they tied that into kids scary camp stories would be more interesting than this movie.
Technically this film is also a train wreck. Director Andre Ovredal, cinematographer Roman Osin and editor Patrick Larsgaard, who have all done solid work in the past, are completely dialing it in here. At least I hope so, because if they intended to make scenes so incoherent then they are flat out bad at their jobs. It is a mess that is impossible to explain.
I do not know what audience this movie is for. Kids from the 80’s and 90’s will remember the Scary Stories book series. Yet these are so much darker. The teen group, which I assume is the target audience, will not get half of the obscure references that take place. Picture “Stranger Things” minus every ounce of relate-ability. “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” is not an offensively bad movie. It is however one of the dumbest. If you are looking for a new creepy tale to tell kids by the campfire while cooking up s’mores, tell them about having seen this film.
Suck Factor: 7 out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)
Written by Byrd
The SUCK FACTOR, how it works. We have flipped the rating system upside down. If a film is classic, it gets a 0. Meaning that movie has 0 SUCKS. If a film is complete trash you must avoid at all costs, it gets a 7, meaning this movie really SUCKS!