The Monsters in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Ranked by How Scary They Actually Are

I walked into a recent screening of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark with few expectations — I loved Alvin Schwartz’s books as a kid, but I wasn’t sure how stories like “The Big Toe” would translate on the big screen. Would it be too juvenile? Or silly? Well, dear reader, let me be the first to tell you that while director André Øvredal’s film, produced by Guillermo del Toro, might not offer us anything original, it knows how to dole out grisly scares (and have fun while doing it).

The film brings several individual stories to the big screen, anchored by an overarching story like 1998’s Urban Legend. The story opens on Halloween in the small community of Mill Valley, a town in Pennsylvania, in 1968, and soon introduces us to a small group of misfits: Stella (an aspiring horror writer), Chuck (a prankster), Augie (an intellectual), and Ramón (a handsome outsider with a secret). By nightfall, the group finds themselves seeking refuge in the long-abandoned mansion of the Bellows family on the outskirts of town to escape from Tommy, a high school bully.

Legend has it that Sarah Bellows, the ostracized daughter of the Bellows family, held terrible secrets and poisoned any child that stepped foot on the family’s land. It doesn’t take long for Stella to stumble across a book in the basement filled with stories written in blood, which, for some reason, prompts her to recite the creepy words from the town’s popular myth about Sarah: “Sarah Bellows, tell me a story.”

Sarah’s spirit is then unleashed, going after everyone who was in the house when Stella uttered those fateful words: Stella, Chuckie, Augie, Ramón, Tommy, and Ruth, Chuckie’s sister. They’re haunted by everything from baby spiders to monsters that look like if beluga whales had long, greasy black hair, providing plenty of nightmare fuel. Ahead, see what you’re in for. Just be warned: BIG spoilers for Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark to follow.

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