Horror movies will always have a way to surprise us. No matter what story has been told, there will always be a new angle to see it from. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) takes elements of normality and turns them into a terrifying, brilliant narrative. 

Austin Zajur and The Pale Lady / Picture Credit: CBS Films

Austin Zajur and The Pale Lady / Picture Credit: CBS Films

Based on the children's book series of the same name by Alvin Schwartz, the movie follows Stella (Zoe Colletti), Auggie (Gabriel Rush) and Chuck (Austin Zajur) on a Halloween night in their town, where they are chased by a trio of bullies. 

Running from the jocks, the three friends end up in Ramón’s (Michael Garza) car. After the bullies give up, Stella asks Ramón if he wants to join her and her friends in exploring a well-known haunted house with a dark past. 

In the dark, desolate house, Stella finds a book written by Sarah Bellows (Kathleen Pollard), a woman who lived long ago and thought to have gone mad and potentially caused harm to her family. 

Once home, Stella opens the book, and sets in motion a chain of events of which there is no return from; she realises that the book is still being written, and whatever Sarah choses to note down in the book, happens in real time... 

Sarah Bellows' house / Picture Credit: CBS Films
Sarah Bellows' house / Picture Credit: CBS Films

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a fantastic horror movie that takes elements of the everyday, as well as well-known horror tropes, and showcases them in a brand new light. 

The idea that Sarah Bellows, who is essentially a ghost, is causing such harm and pain to others by simply writing stories, is a rather genius concept; her stories include the names of those Stella loves, which causes your heart to sink like hers does as she races to save her friends from Sarah’s stories. 

Using the simple idea of a story to create such a fear and dread is impressive to say the least, and with the use of things we know to be scary, such as silent hospital halls and a corn maze in the dark, the movie showcases how horror can be done in a myriad of different ways. 

With this in mind, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark utilises the idea of explaining what is to come, and then showing the audience just how terrifying Sarah’s mind really is. 

Stella with Sarah's book of stories / Picture Credit: CBS Films
Stella with Sarah's book of stories / Picture Credit: CBS Films

For example, in the scene with Auggie as the centre of Sarah’s story, Stella reads about a stew and a voice asking “Who took my toe?”; viewers then see Auggie making the meal Sarah describes, meaning that we know what comes next, making the scene much, much scarier. 

Telling a story this way is incredibly clever, as explaining to someone what happens before it does can, sometimes, take away from the scene in question; not here. Each story makes your heart sink a little deeper, as waiting for what you know is coming can often be worse that not knowing at all... 

In addition to the narrative being perfectly horrifying, the monsters within the movie are also something to behold; although, you might want to look away when they arrive on screen... 

Each monster within the film has its own aura, its own way of being scary. The Pale Lady and The Wendigo may be the creepiest creatures, followed by living scarecrow, Harold. 

Harold the Scarecrow / Picture Credit: CBS Films
Harold the Scarecrow / Picture Credit: CBS Films

With every story Sarah tells, comes a new beast or freaky event, from The Pale Lady to spiders crawling under someone’s skin; the movie does well to include different types of monsters, and make them look very, very frightening. 

There is something that will scare almost everyone within this feature; from The Wendigo’s bones cracking as it twists itself into impossible positions, to the toe Auggie finds in his food followed by an empty voice. 

The film employs a brilliant cast, also, as the main four bounce off each other well, with Chuck being the one to make most of the jokes. Stella is a kind, curious person, which matches well with her friends who also wish to seek things out they perhaps should leave alone... 

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a triumph of horror; the way in which Sarah’s stories are told, as well as her own story, is genius; telling the audience what will happen before it does makes each scene scarier, and shows that horror will always find new ways to terrify you. 

Watch the trailer for Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark below:

Written by Melissa, who you can follow on Twitter @melissajournal

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