Halloween, corn fields, a haunted house …..and a bunch of teenage misfits. After surveying the initial setting of the latest horror offering from André Øvredal you could be mistaken into thinking Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is just another in the long line of cliché ‘teen scream’ flicks. But rather than simply drift off into the realm of the 1980s slashers flicks content with an aimless double-digit body count, this film attempts to engage the viewer in a developing cat-mouse situation of art-imitating-life …or is it life-imitating-art?
Following a chance discovery in the ‘haunted house’ (a mansion formally occupied by the prominent Bellows family) the troubling events that were long rumoured to have occurred in the house begin trigger a series of seemingly unlinked horrific events effecting students from the local high school in the US town of Mill Valley.
As the group begin to delve further into the myth about the haunted mansion and it’s mysterious inhabitant who’s only communication with the outside world was via a series of gruesome horror stories read through an external wall, the misfits’ discovery unwittingly unleashes unspeakable hell upon the inhabitants of their small community. It’s then up to this same group of teenage friends (fronted by Stella Nichols, played by Zoe Margaret Colletti), to piece it all together and put a stop to the atrocities. Think “The Goonies – ten years on” stumbling into Camp Crystal Lake, and you get the idea of where this flick is headed.
The movie seems to be stuck somewhere between a teen ‘coming of age’ flick and a genuine horror movie, with a leg planted firmly in each camp. Whilst the effects and spine-chilling shock factor of some scenes seem right at home in a bona fide horror film, it soon reverts back to a late teen adventure fable complete with the stereotypical love story.
It all makes for an entertaining but gruesome couple of hours. So if a far-fetched, thrill-filled, seat jumping teen horror flicks sounds like your perfect night out, then Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark could be just the film for you. But beware… all is not as it seems , as the lead character proclaims “You don’t read the book, the book reads you!”
Movie Review By Lindsay Bulach
Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark is in cinema now…