Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

For fans of Goosebumps, the next level of tales of terror would have to be Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Alvin Schwartz penned these terrifying stories from 1981 until his death in 1991. For the followers of his book series, Schwartz’s dark tales come to the big screen to provide nightmares for a future generation. 

The setting begins in 1968 on Halloween Night in the small town of Mill Valley, where three high school friendscontemplate their last Halloween together before leaving to attend university. Stella (Zoe Colletti), Auggie (Gabriel Rush) & Chuck (Austin Zajur) chose to befriend Ramon (Michael Garza) who is passing through town. The four of them decide to visit the local ‘haunted house’ which was once inhabited the founders of the community and their daughter, Sarah Bellows (Kathleen Pollard). Legend has it that Sarah was locked up in the house and never allowed out, local children would be allowed to visit her in the house. The reclusive young lady would tell them scary stories through the walls and then mysteriously, each child that heard the tales would disappear. 

While the four high school students search through the house, they manage to discover a hidden room where Sarah was kept and Stella finds a book. The pages contain scary horror stories written by the Bellows daughter with a bizarre twist, the words appear to be written in blood. As an aspiring writer and fan of horror stories herself, Stella cannot resist taking the book home to read. Unfortunately, this action leads to the ‘reawakening’ of Sarah Bellows spirit and new stories begin to appear in the book. Each tale leads to dire consequences for the aspiring writer, her friends and all of Mill Valley. Stella must find a way to stop the book from bringing new monsters to life while at the same time trying to discover the truth about Sarah and her past.

As a horror film, Scary Stories does contain all the right elements to be a scary night in the theatre although what was promised in the marketing never seem to manifest on-screen. Fortunately, the filmmakers did not rely on blood and gore to raise the horror factor, but certainly, the monsters prove to be scary enough. Even if you are not familiar with the original book series, the intentions of the series seemed to produce exciting and scary stories. Adventures that were not designed to traumatise the minds of young readers. The movie seems to have a different intent, it does aim to inject more fear upon its audience. The backstory of Sarah Bellows manages to incorporate her stories while showing that she has been mistreated. These revelations lead Stella to write stories which magically bring monsters to life that cause misfortune to befall the real-life subjects of her stories.

The relatively unknown cast does a credible job in portraying the characters and this movie has probably come just a little too early for Halloween. (A holiday that is becoming more popular in Australian culture) Nevertheless, if you enjoy a good scare in your horror films, then Scary Stories fits the bill. The screenplay adds intrigue and mystery with Stella and her friends’ investigation of Sarah’s life. As they uncover the truth about what really happened to her as she wrote her book, the rest of the film unfolds. Scary Stories could carry the label of a ‘thinking’ horror film, because audiences must pay attention to connections throughout the film. This moves the whole experience beyond the traditional Hollywood horror film, because it offers a more in-depth storyline and people may even find themselves carrying for the victims.

REEL DIALOGUE: What is the story of your life?

Stella and her friends were shocked to discover that all of the writings in the book were actually coming to life in Mill Valley. One element was that they could sadly read a foreboding ending for all of the people mentioned in the book. We can all take a sigh of relief, because a book like that does not exist in real life or does it? Is your story recorded somewhere and is it possible to read of what your future might hold?  

The Bible does tell of God’s plan for the whole of mankind – from the beginning of Creation in Genesis to the end in Revelation, which portrays what happens what God will do on the final day. A story that does include all of mankind and provides a solution for our lives. 

Even if you have never picked up a Bible, God’s story is a ripper. Where should you start? Read one of the biographies of Jesus in the middle of the book – Matthew, Mark. Luke, or John