Hey, everyone! I’m reviving Movie Talk here at Quite the Novel Idea, because aside from books, I’m also passionate about movies. What better way to bring back this feature and start Halloween early than talking about the film version of the beloved (and terrifying) Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
Based on the book series by Alvin Schwartz, these books have been a staple to many children’s reading. The stories range from funny to creepy, but what tops it all off are the illustrations. They’re nightmare fuel. Here are some of the more tame drawings here for everyone’s sanity. While googling images for this post, however, I had some run ins with the more…nauseating creations. I did this for you, dear reader. You’re welcome.
I loved and hated the books growing up, so I was excited to see what a movie was being made. Those teaser trailers promised some of the more memorable stories: The Big Toe, The Red Spot, and, of course, Harold the scarecrow. Then there’s the movie poster, which was incredibly creepy and got my spirits up.
Hello, Harold. *runs*
Taking place in small town America in the 1980s, Scary Stories follows a small group of ragtag friends on Halloween night. When one of them finds a book of short stories in an abandoned house, the stories take on lives of their own. Mayhem ensues.
I was nervous that, since the movie is PG-13 horror, the studio would dumb down the content or sacrifice a plot for jump scares. Color me surprised that there was decent character development, an entertaining plot, and genuine scares. The characters are ones you care about. Each one has a unique backstory; you feel like they really are friends.
I had a lot of fun figuring out which other stories were going to be included in the movie, and I was smiling in glee when each one was revealed. The reimaginings of the stories were well done, keeping true to be original drawings by Stephen Gamell. So yes, there were times when I looked away but could still see what was happening from the corner of my eye. While there were some jump scares, the tension was built so high I could never predict when the scare would actually happen.
However, there were times when I thought the movie wanted to push the scare boundaries but couldn’t because of its PG-13 rating. A scene with Harold the scarecrow comes to mind. The original story was gruesome, and the scene is the film sort of goes there…but not really. It makes me who the movie was for. Is this for people who grew up reading the books? Is it for new fans? Were they afraid that no one would go see it if pushed the boundaries more? So many questions, no answers.
All in all, the movie is entertaining and a whole lot of fun. The nostalgia is strong, and the scares are spine-tingling. If you’re brave enough, give it a shot.