'Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark' Spoilers: Ending Explained
Directed by André Øvredal and produced by Guillermo del Toro, the new Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark movie is easily classified as “family horror,” adapting author Alvin Schwartz’ disturbing collections of short stories into a cohesive narrative that incorporates the source material in interesting ways. But the film is far from an anthology, telling the story of a small group of teenagers who get wrapped up in a terrifying mystery that feels like Goosebumps or Jumanji … just way scarier.
How does the narrative wrap up? What does it all mean for a potential sequel, especially when Alvin Schwartz wrote 82 short stories and less than a dozen are featured in the movie?
The Scary Stories A-plot involves a group of kids in a small Pennsylvanian town in 1968 who visit a haunted mansion on Halloween, but in the basement, they find the magical journal of Sarah Bellows, the daughter of a local wealthy family that all disappeared generations ago. But anyone who disturbs her room gets a terrifying “Scary Story” written about them and they die in a gruesome — but bloodless — case of body horror.
Sarah’s misery and despair powers this barely explained dark magic, and the only way to put her to rest is to bring the light the dark secret that her family was poisoning the entire town.
One by one people are picked off as they become main characters in familiar stories like “Harold,” “The Big Toe,” “The Dream,” and “The Red Spot.” But there are also new stories introduced that resonate really well, like “The Jangly Man,” one of the most disturbing horror creations in recent memory.
Protagonist Stella Nichols (Zoe Margaret Colletti) is a budding horror author herself. Along for the ride are her sidekicks Chuck Steinberg (Austin Zajur) and August “Auggie” Hilderbrandt (Gabriel Rush). They become fast friends with a new kid passing through town, Ramón Morales (Michael Garza), a draft-dodger that Stella falls for. Chuck’s sister Ruth (Natalie Ganzhorn) also plays a minor supporting role.
As this cast of characters struggle to unravel the mystery, Auggie disappears as part of “The Big Toe.” They’re able to save Ruth from a spider bite in “The Bite.” Then, Chuck is consumed by a terrible blob of a lady adapted from “The Dream.”
Eventually, Stella swears to tell Sarah Bellows’ story, thereby stopping the curse and saving herself, Ramón, and Ruth from further assaults. Ramón enlists to go fight in Vietnam.
With Sarah Bellows’ magical book in tow, Stella rides in her dad’s truth off into the sunset with Ruth in the backseat, determined to use its magic to somehow bring Auggie and Chuck back to life. After all, they were both merely consumed by nightmares in strange ways, so they might still exist in some extra-dimensional space.
There’s no telling what might happen if there is a direct sequel, but it’ll definitely stay with Stella on her quest to save her friends.
If a sequel does eventually get greenlit, will they stay true to the weird naming conventions of the three books and call it More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark? We sure hope so.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is now in theaters.