Today I saw Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, starring Zoe Margaret Colletti and Michael Garza.
As a child in the '80s, many lunchtimes were spent huddled underneath a table in the school library with my friends, reading aloud from the book Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. I remember some of the characters and stories so vividly I can still see them in my mind's eye.
So when I heard that an adaptation was coming to the big screen and Guillermo del Toro was involved, I got very excited. Unfortunately I later learned that this film would carry a PG-13 rating, which usually means it won't be allowed to be as scary as it could be, but I was still willing to give it a chance, so I did. Here's what I thought:
The screenwriters do a nice job of weaving together the stories with one cohesive narrative. The kids visit a haunted house on Halloween and disturb the wrong entity. She starts writing stories in a book they have possession of to destroy each of them one by one.
The visuals are very close to what I remember of the book and come alive in horrifically magical ways.
The child actors are all quite good and not the least bit annoying. Together they have a "Goonies" vibe, which is a lot of fun.
It takes them a while to get to the first story. Too long. And the Halloween sequence going after the bully feels too much like so many other movie scenes of the same nature.
It's almost gratuitous with gore. Sure, many of the stories (the toe, etc.) have gross elements to them, but I had to look away more than I'd have preferred.
They dialed down some of the most terrifying elements probably because of the rating, which is a shame because the book used to keep me up at night; this did not.
All-in-all it was entertaining, but in a sanitized-for-the-YA-crowd sort of way, which was disappointing. If they make a second, I hope they'll go for the R rating.