I was both excited and anxious to learn about the film adaptation of Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, a series of books that made chills run down the spines of the kids who got their hands on these creepy tales and the horrifying illustrations that accompanied them. Book-to-film adaptations, as we all know, are pretty hit-or-miss. But once I heard that Guillermo del Toro was behind this film, I was all ears. And the trailers alone, giving us glimpses at André Øvredal's direction, kept me eager to see more.
Overall, I did enjoy this film. While I did wish that we knew more about the stories themselves, given that these monsters show up and make certain characters disappear, their designs were great, and the tone of the film was perfect. It reminds me of a del Toro film meets Disney Channel originals like Don't Look Under the Bed and Phantom of the Megaplex. For kids, they're certainly scary. And for adults, they're fun. But Scary Stories takes that extra step further, especially with the disturbing creatures that haunt the screen.
The acting is strong for a film like this, delivering strong performances from Zoe Margaret Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, and Austin Zajur, our four central characters. Colletti can certainly carry a film, and was impressive for what seems to be her first starring role. I'm interested to see what other projects she takes on. As for the film itself, like I said, I did wish we knew more about the specific stories that "write themselves" in Sarah Bellows' book. We get snippets, as the characters study them to look for who that story will be about, and whether or not they have a chance at saving them. But the movie does leave room for sequels, as there are three books in the series, and definitely room to explore more of the scary stories.
This isn't a movie I'd necessarily recommend for theater viewing, to be honest. It is fun for those familiar with the books, to see the monsters you recognize on the big screen, but in terms of ultimate payoff, a night at home with the lights off should suffice. It's a fun Halloween-night type of film, close to but not quite reaching the ranks of, say, Trick 'r' Treat.
Did you see Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark? What did you think? Did you read the books? Let me know in the comments. Let's discuss!
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