Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)
There are horror movies about which people feel nostalgic, and then there are horror movies about nostalgia. Well, at least there’s one horror movie about nostalgia, and you’re soaking in it. Everyone of a certain age will remember the thin dark volumes of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, with collected horror tales from Alvin Schwartz and unforgettable illustrations by Stephen Gammell. Its movie namesake takes some of the prenominate scary stories and sets them in a frame story in which a misfit gang of investigatory teens find a self-writing storybook and have to, you know, keep from getting killed by it. Set in 1968, the film makes a point of calling on memories of Nixon and Vietnam and the brainstem fear of how our memories of our parents differ from reality. It’s a big mélange of horror tropes: haunted mansion, possessed object, Halloween, bunch of kid protagonists that have to overcome their surface differences and learn the power of teamwork … it’s all in there somewhere. But thanks to director André Øvredal’s visual flair (you might know him from Trollhunter) and visceral dedication to the monsters of Guillermo del Toro (himself a writer and producer), it feels enthralling and kinetic instead of trite. Also, the creature with the missing toe is in it, so get ready to revisit those nightmares from your childhood.
A Nightmare on Franklin Street 2019 is presented by Voodoo Ranger and J.J. Taylor Distributing Florida, Inc. Promotional consideration is provided by Spooky Empire and WEDU PBS.