Creature Design and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Across all of Horror Cinema, there have been a collection of creatures that have not only captured the imagination but, also terrified. These creatures have all been practical, not CGI. When you think of monsters like The Creeper from Jeepers Creepers, their looks sticks out because of how well designed and realistic it is. Creature design and attention to detail can mean the difference between a terrifying horror movie villain and a joke. It’s on that note I talk about the subject of today’s review Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a horror film; based on the children’s books of the same name. The plot of the film revolves around a group of teenagers that find a book in an abandoned house, the curious leader of the group Stella, (Zoe Colletti), decides to take the book home; a decision she will regret forever. Once she takes it home and looks through it, stories start to appear on their own; targeting her and her friends.
Going into this film, I was expecting something akin to the Goosebumps film of a few years ago; with the stories coming to life and running amuck; how wrong I was. The stories that come to life feel personal and precisely tailored to each character, as the book plays off each one of their fears, whereas, in the other film, it was merely random. The scares work well and, though there are a few jump scares peppered throughout, there is also a keen scene of atmosphere and dread which permeates the film. However, the most praiseworthy aspect of the film’s horror is by far the creature design. Now there are several creatures in this film, as it is broken down in a collection of short stories, with a broader narrative to bind them all. Each separate creature is unique, and it is plain to see how much care has been put into them down to the smallest detail. This is no doubt the influence of producer Guillermo del Toro, who is known for his love of practical monsters. I believe these villains are the films greatest strength and help it to stand apart from the 1000 other generic horror films with forgettable monsters and demons.
The characters, unlike the monsters, are all rather one-note, being dull and nonmemorable. The group of kids never really graduate from the teenage outcast stereotype and, are more caricatures; you won’t remember who any of the characters are 5 seconds after the film ends and, you won’t remember their names during it. That said, the film is on the whole incredibly well done and impressive, even the low age rating doesn’t take away from the film, as it does in some cases, the horror and the deaths are all well-executed and chilling without the need for excessive gore, and I think that says a lot to the film’s credit.
Overall this was a horror film where you can tell the people making it care, the creature design speaks to that, it masters the subtle art of scares so entirely that you will be thinking of the film’s monsters long after you’ve gone home, shame the same can’t be said for the characters; this may well be the horror hit of the summer, and I for one can’t wait for more scary stories to tell in the dark,
4.5/5
Reviewed by Luke

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