Movie Review: Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

To be fair, I didn’t read the books, know anything about them, or even watch the trailer for this movie before diving in. My expectations were fairly low, and that usually means good things happen. Wanna watch the trailer? Click here.

I did see about fifteen seconds of the trailer, so I knew that Harold is a scarecrow/pumpkin-face guy that kills a teenager. That’s it. But a lot more than that happened… Even though I’d love to see Harold get his own movie. That’s a lie. I hate sequels/spin-offs.

Without any more wandering words, let’s discuss. Was this a good movie? A bad movie? A movie without enough pumpkins? Maybe all three!

Good:

Diverse/Compelling Characters

Pillsbury Dough Boy turned… something

The movie’s strongest part is the first 45 minutes. It does character development extremely well, and is a perfect mix of comedy/horror, which I usually hate. Ramon (how do I spell this name?) is a solid not-quite-main character, and the curly-haired black kid that is NOT named Auggie is very funny. Each character is different, something not all movies can say, and I genuinely liked three of them.

Oh, black-hair-curly-kid’s name is actually named Chuck. You’re welcome, reader. I did some research.

1/2 Deaths are well-done/Creepy

Around half of the deaths are either unique or well-done, sometimes both. The first one is by far the strongest. I won’t spoil things for you, but there is a pitchfork, a lot of straw, and some more straw from the eyeballs. I don’t think I’ve ever seen somebody die like that before, which is saying a lot, because I’ve seen way too many horror deaths.

Time Period (60’s) is Fun and Not Forced

Not all movies set in previous decades are good. Sometimes, the theme is way too forced. Although I never understood why this movie is so fixated on Richard Nixon, the majority of its 60-ness is enjoyable and not shoved down your face. It was just enough so I never forgot we were in the 60’s, and a few too many uses of the word “flic,” but besides that I loved the time period. Also, the clothing.

Bad:

Cliched Basis

I kind of expected this to be the case, but Scary Stories is really just another example of the trope we’ve seen a hundred times. “Outcast kids mess with some dark stuff (after escaping bullies) and are haunted for a while.” Granted, this movie had a different ending than most in the cliche, and I appreciate that. But its best moments are its unique moments, and those tend to disappear after the first hour.

Doesn’t follow its own rules

When they first “attract” the haunting and start to do some research, there are some “rules” set down. One person is gone every night, and they just kind of… vanish. Except that’s not true for two people, one of whom is a scarecrow and one of whom is in the hospital, basically dead. So at the end, after everything’s happy-ish again, they should both be okay, right? Nope, only one is okay. There is no explaining for this.

Stay on your pole, Harold. It’s better up there.

As for the other rule, not one, not two, but three people are taken or almost-taken on the final night. Once again, no explaining. So my rule about rules is this: either don’t make the rules, or follow the rules, because now I’m just confused.

Overall:

This is a solid movie, and would be worth the price of a movie ticket if tickets were 1/2 what they are. So… rent it at your house and then maybe rent it again a year later. It’s one of those.

7.2/10

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