FILM REVIEW By Chris McCoy If the above seems like a lot of trouble to go to in order to set up a framing device for a bunch of short creepy tales, well, it is. Øvredal and del Toro work very hard to get us invested in this group of small town outsiders living on the eve of Nixon’s election. It helps that Colletti brings some big Hermione energy as the ostracized smart girl who is obsessed with writing horror. Their prank wars soon turn seriously spooky when aspiring writer Stella steals Sara’s book of scary stories scribbled in the blood of children, and Tommy has a runin with a sinister scarecrow. Horror aficionados will recognize many of the tropes at play here, which lean much more heavily on Cronenbergian body horror than the retro setting would suggest. Especially upsetting is the poster-worthy pimple from hell suffered by Chuck’s sister Nancy (Natalie Gan-
zhorn) on the night of the high school’s big harvest festival. But what Scary Stories lacks in originality, it makes up for in execution and heart. Øvredal makes a virtue of his limitations, shooting in a muted autumnal palette and even getting a scare out of the color grading at one point. The eager actors and mid-budget, analog feel to the effects turn out to be the film’s greatest assets. There are a lot of parallels to the Stephen King horror juggernaut It, and when the nerdy Auggie dresses as a clown for Halloween, it is surely meant as a jab at the competition. Admittedly, not everything here works, but I greatly prefer Scary Stories’ playful pluck to the reverent sterility of It. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Now playing Multiple locations
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