A Childhood Classic Comes to the Screen

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Maya Barany, Writer

An eighties classic and universal source of childhood trauma, the movie adaptation of Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark anthology was released this August this year. Originally a controversial campfire tale, this movie stays true to the infamous illustrations and short stories. Director Andre Overdal and writer Dan Hageman turned this into a new fall must-see. 

Traditional horror movie viewers might be skeptical of a faux nostalgic film made in 2019, however the time period was done well and stayed within the source material’s setting of farms and a small Pennsylvania town.  Nods to the late sixties were dispersed with imagery of Nixon, the Vietnam war, and some iconic hair and costumes that built a somewhat believable atmosphere. 

In the film, teen characters Stella (Zoe Colletti), Ramon (Micheal Garza), and Auggie (Gabriel Rush) go through the book’s original scares. However, the plot centers around a new villain, Sarah Bellows. When the group discovers the girl’s tragic past and book of handwritten stories,  the ghost of Sarah Bellows turned darker, turning the old stories and illustrations from “Harold,” “The Big Toe,” and “The Red Spot,” into reality.  

In the more sluggish middle half of the movie, there is minimal buildup and too much filler for a true horror film. With brief moments of terror and some good acting, the movie is stays alive by a thread into the more active ending, when more gross and shocking monsters are released into the town. Considering the PG-13 rating, the scares did well enough for the audience and fans expectations. 

Released in 1981, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was once a millennial childhood classic, now it has inspired a movie perfect for a fall night in. Appropriate for anyone from children to original horror fans, this easygoing popcorn film is definitely worth watching.

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