Four kids decide to combat evil after evil decides to kill them in this adaptation of the beloved and befeared children's book series.
When you get right down to it, the only way any of us will be remembered is by stories. Stories our families tell, stories that get written in the newspaper, stories that are whispered over campfires. In one way or another, you become the example for others to follow. When Stella, Chuck, and Auggie take their new friend Ramon to the Bellows mansion on Halloween, all they know about Sara Bellows is that she could tell a hell of a story and killed multiple children. By the time the film is over, only Stella (Zoe Margaret Colletti) is truly capable of telling their story along with the truth behind Sara Bellows. Director André Øvredal crushes the hell out of this adaptation of the children's classic series, using the flair he showed in Troll Hunter with the grounded simplicity of The Autopsy of Jane Doe. The stories told throughout feel as though they come from the books as told around campfires. Stephen Gammel's classic images compound the telling just as they did in the story, making a corpse looking for a toe as horrifying as any challenged unleashed in the Saw movies. Made for teens, this adaptation does not hold back showing psychological and physical consequences of tangling with a demonic entity. The most horrific section did not have a monster or creature on the prowl but a poor girl in a bathroom not wanting the boil on her face to ruin her big night on the stage. Her screams and those of her brother (played wonderfully by Austin Zajur, the awkward teen equivalent to Finn Wolfhard's tween joker in It: Chapter One) still echo off the tile of my mind. On top of all the horror, there are good messages in here of social acceptance, duty, and racial equality that are threaded with calm deliberation. That's more than I ask for my silly horror, especially when done this well.
For those of you questioning if studios are capable of making good horror for the younger set, get out there and see this movie now.