Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark ★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

There are things I liked: the intensity (definitely pushing the edge of that PG-13) and the elements of body horror (metaphor for puberty, etc.) and most of the creature design. There are things I didn't like: As Brett Arnold noted in his Letterboxd review, it's like they made a movie that's 85% the stuff in anthology movies you want to skip to get to the stories. There's definitely an element of "When are they going to get to the fireworks factory?" here.

But I want to talk about the politics of the thing, because the director and producer definitely want us to talk about the politics of the thing. For some reason it's set in 1968 and Nixon's on every TV and the Vietnam War is in the background and one of the very bad people is very racist and some other very bad people are members of the dread Big Business, which is poisoning the people, and the big business family is oppressing those who are different, et cetera, et cetera.

It's all very heavy handed, as one might expect from the mind behind THE SHAPE OF WATER.

But what's fascinating to me is the way they resolve all of this. Stella, the lead female character, tells the spirit that is haunting her and her friends to, basically, let it go. She pulls a Taylor Swift on the ghost: "You need to calm down." Yes, people hurt you, Stella says. Yes, things were bad. I will tell everyone the truth. I will make them see you were not a monster. BUT YOU ARE ACTING LIKE A MONSTER NOW AND YOU HAVE TO QUIT.

And the monster quits, letting Stella and her love interest go. And the happy ending involves Stella's love interest being shipped out to Vietnam: he was a draft dodger who insisted he wasn't scared ... but it turns out he was just kind of scared. He doesn't appear to have been a conscientious objector. He doesn't flee to Canada out of revulsion for what the U.S. is doing. He just didn't want to die. And now he's not scared because he's been through some shit.

I guess what I'm getting at is that for all the leftist trappings of the film — wicked Tricky Dick and horrible Big Business and the evils of Small Town Racism: real Endemic, Structural Shit, you know? — the end lessons are, more or less, The Truth Will Set You Free and Trust The System.

I dunno. I found this amusing. But ymmv.

Block or Report

Sonny liked this review