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André Øvredal
Zoe Margaret Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush
Writing Credits:
Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman

On Halloween 1968, reclusive Stella and her two friends meet a mysterious drifter, Ramón, and uncover a sinister notebook of stories.

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
English Descriptive Audio
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 108 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 11/5/2019

• “Dark Tales” Featurette
• “Retro Horror” Featurette
• “The Bellows Construct” Featurette
• “Creatures From the Shadows” Featurette
• “Mood Reels”
• Behind the Scenes Trailers
• Previews


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver;
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer.


Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 7, 2019)

Based on Alvin Schwartz’s series of children’s novels, 2019’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark takes us back to Halloween 1968. In Mill Valley, Pennsylvania, teen pals Stella Nicholls (Zoe Margaret Colletti), Auggie Hilderbrandt (Gabriel Rush) and Chuck Steinberg (Austin Zajur) use the occasion to get back at bullying classmate Tommy Milner (Austin Abrams).

Inevitably, budding psychopath Tommy doesn’t care for these pranks, and he seeks his own retribution. Tommy chases the kids to a local drive-in theater, where they seek refuge in Ramon Rodriguez’s (Michael Garza) car.

This only briefly slows Tommy’s pursuit, and the foursome eventually head to a nearby mansion reputed to be haunted. Allegedly Sarah Bellows killed kids there, and they find a book of her stories.

Stella takes the book with her when they leave, and this becomes a bad decision. Sarah’s ghostly hand writes new stories, and these come with dire consequences for the Mill Valley teens.

Until this movie hit, I never heard of Schwartz’s books, mainly because I was a little too old for their target audience even when the series launched in 1981. The Dark books aim mostly for pre-teens, and I was 14 at the time.

Horror films rarely target that demographic, as they almost always shoot for late teens or young adults. Dark doesn’t change that equation, so despite the orientation of the source, the “PG-13” movie makes no attempts to capture a pre-teen crowd.

That’s a shame, as it’d be nice to get a horror tale that opens itself to a younger viewership. The genre tends to focus on gore more than actual scares, so a film whose rating won’t allow it to go down that path would seem refreshing.

Not that Dark brings us blood and guts. The movie comes with one scene that could’ve been graphic, but it doesn’t show anything much, so its “PG-13” mainly comes from intensity and a general sense of terror than from visual elements.

One major change from the novels comes from the overriding plot with the teens and Sarah’s ghost. This doesn’t exist in the books, as they offer pure anthologies with no connection among the tales.

While the film could’ve simply selected three or four of these short stories and presented them without the broader narrative, I get why the producers chose not to go that way. Anthologies don’t tend to be popular with movie audiences, so Dark likely goes over better as a more traditional tale.

For the most part, the new and old elements integrate fairly well, mainly because it invests a lot of energy in its unique elements. A clumsier movie would simply put the kids in a haunted house and recount the short stories that way, but Dark spends a lot of time on set-up.

Maybe a little too much time, honestly, as the audience may grow impatient to get to the scares. Still, I appreciate the effort involved, as the choice to develop the characters and situations pays off via greater viewer connection to the roles.

As a horror tale, Dark comes with some of the inevitable jump scares, but it doesn’t rely on those to the degree I expect from modern movies. The film manages to create creepy environs, and those elements allow some of the sequences to boast pretty good chills.

Inevitably, some work better than others, of course. I won’t spoil different segments, but while some produce a good punch, others feel less impactful.

I also rolled my eyes when the movie ended with a total sequel-bait conclusion. Again, I’ll avoid spoilers, but expect a finale that leaves the door wide open for Dark 2.

Despite these annoying choices, Dark mainly becomes an engaging horror experience. It can drag at times but it comes with a better-developed narrative than typical and manages enough scares to work.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C

Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. As expected, the movie presented strong visuals.

Across the board, definition seemed good. Even with a mix of low-light sequences, the film appeared accurate and concise, as only a smidgen of slightly soft shots emerged.

Jagged edges and moiré effects didn’t mar the presentation, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws also failed to appear.

In terms of palette, Dark went with a standard teal orientation embellished with a fair amount of amber/orange as well. Within stylistic choices, the hues seemed well-depicted.

Blacks were dark and dense, and shadows gave us good clarity. I felt pleased with this transfer.

As for the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio, it offered a mostly typical horror movie soundscape. This meant a fair amount of creepy atmosphere and occasional “jolt moments”.

Along with good stereo music, the soundfield was able to open things up in a satisfying manner that embellished the story. We got a nice sense of various elements along with a useful sense of the spooky bits, some of which worked really well.

Audio quality was always good. Music appeared full and rich, while effects demonstrated nice clarity and accuracy. Low-end appeared deep and rich.

Speech was natural and distinctive throughout the film. The mix used the speakers well and created a fine sense of the material.

A smattering of extras round out the disc, and Dark Tales runs five minutes, eight seconds. It includes comments from director André Øvredal, producers Guillermo del Toro and J. Miles Dale, creature designer Mike Hill, and actors Zoe Colletti, Austin Zajur, Kathleen Pollard, Gabriel Rush, Natalie Ganzhorn, and Michael Garza.

“Tales” looks at the source and its adaptation for the screen as well as thematic/character issues. A few insights emerge but not many.

With Retro Horror, we find a five-minute, six-second reel that features Øvredal, del Toro, Garza, Colletti, Ganzhorn, Pollard, Zajur, and Rush.

“Retro” digs into story areas, influences, and Øvredal’s approach to the material. This becomes another mediocre piece.

The Bellows Construct fills three minutes, 36 seconds with info from Øvredal, and production designer David Brisbin. It looks at the movie’s haunted house set and becomes a short but engaging overview.

Next comes Creatures From the Shadows, an 11-minute, 35-second piece that offers material from Øvredal, del Toro, Pollard, Hill, Rush, Colletti, Ganzhorn, Zajur and creature designer Norman Cabrera.

As expected, “Shadows” looks at the movie’s creepy characters’ design and execution. The program brings a nice mix of details.

Under Mood Reels, we get seven segments that fill a total of 24 minutes, 27 seconds. Each one offers a summary of that week’s shoot.

This means we mainly see movie clips, though some alternate footage appears. The package sounds more interesting than it is.

Lastly, Behind the Scenes Trailers offers two clips: “Halloween Night” (2:22) and “Asylum” (2:27). These offer footage from the production. It’s unclear why they’re called “trailers”, as they don’t appear to have been used in that manner, but they’re fun to see.

The disc opens with ads for Winchester, Five Feet Apart, and Strange But True. No trailer for Dark appears here.

Though I tend to view “PG-13” horror with a skeptical eye, Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark shows that rating doesn’t determine effectiveness. While it doesn’t always soar, the movie brings a mostly involving affair. The Blu-ray offers very good picture and audio along with a minor set of supplements. Dark ends up as a pretty enjoyable creep-fest.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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