The Scary Stories from Our Childhood Come Back to Haunt Us


Harold, the scare-crow, standing ominously as the movie poster.

Nathalie Ceja Gomez, Arts and Entertainment Editor

 As kids, teachers would read us books in hopes of sparking a love for reading. For me, and probably many others, one of those books was Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. I still remember how scared I was when my teacher would take breaks during the readings only for it to end with the sound of her scream. Even after my teacher was finished with a book, I spent countless lunches in the library reading and freaking myself out. So when I saw that Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was being turned into a movie, produced by Guillermo del Toro–a director I have always looked up to, I was thrilled, and if you loved these books as a kid, I’m sure you were thrilled too.  The movie was released in August of this year.

The iconic cover of the 1981 book that the movie Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is based on.
The frighting monsters that come after our main characters.

 The plot of the movie isn’t unique and actually, kind of forgetful. It’s the Halloween of 1968. Stella, our main character and aspiring writer, and her only friends Auggie and Chuck are out trying to trick the local generic bully, Tommy Miller. When things go bad, the gang runs away into a drive- in movie theater in which they hide out in a car owned by Ramon, who is new in town. Thankful for helping them hide, they invite him to go to the town’s haunted house and, for a reason I will never understand, he agrees to go. While exploring the house, they are trapped in a small room by Tommy, who followed them to the house. Some ghost or spirit unlocks the door. After Tommy leaves, the really spooky thing happens. After leaving the house, Stella gets the bright idea to take a book from the haunted house. With this comes a slur of problems because, unsurprisingly, it’s haunted! The book writes stories in fresh blood that coincide with the fate of the their friends and conjures monsters from which the group attempts to escape.

Although the plot was mediocre, the cinematography was wonderful. There was plenty of shots that were breathtaking. For example, the scene of our main character’s room, which was shown displaying old horror movie posters from all different perspectives, was wonderful. The scene that stands out for me the most would have to be the RED room scene. Chuck is the comedic relief and, unlike most movies, I enjoyed and found myself laughing for most of his dialogue. He finds himself  in a hospital hallway when all of a sudden the hallway lights turn a vibrant red making everything in the hallway that color. Chuck is in the middle of an intersection with the Pale Lady at all four ends.  

The Pale Lady following Chuck, who is played by Austin Zajur.

The Pale Lady is a monster that can be described as as a chubby pale lady with thin matted black hair and small beady black eyes. When Chuck sees this monster, he runs only to be in another intersection but now with two of the hallways blocked by the Pale Lady. This occurs until he is eventually blocked from all ends by the monster to which then the monster comes up to him and hugs him. At first, I thought Chuck was going to be fine, it’s just a hug from a gross monster but that thought quickly ended as I saw Chuck being sucked into her body and completely absorbed in seconds.

Overall, André Øverdal’s 2019 film Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a six out of ten. The plot was nothing new and no actor was completely believable. The movie often relied on jump scares which soon became annoying. The counterbalance to this was the beautiful and interesting cinematography.  Unsurprisingly the practical effects were stunning and completely put me into the world of the movie which was terrifying and genuinely frightening to me. This movie is covered with my childhood nostalgia and I had high hopes for it. Sadly, it didn’t quite reach my hopes, as it wasn’t memorable or ground breaking–but I can’t say I wasn’t scared!