Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Could the new film adaptation possibly live up to the books?

Since Halloween is still a full (checks watch) 45 years away, there’s not a whole lot to talk about here. I used to think Christmastime was the farthest from Halloween I could get emotionally, but now I realize it’s actually early Spring. We’re all the way on the other side of the Earth here.

So let’s talk about the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark movie.

I’m a huge supporter of The Autopsy of Jane Doe. It’s simply one of the best under the radar horror films released this decade. If you haven’t seen it, you’re in luck because it recently hit Netflix. It’s a great old school haunted house movie (except it’s a mortuary) with a compelling central mystery. It is also creepy as hell and has some spectacular monster designs.

The director, Andre Ovredal, is doing the Scary Stories movie, although in typical Hollywood fashion Guillermo Del Toro’s name is plastered all over the marketing as producer, likely causing many to assume he directed it (he, Tarantino and Peter Jackson get more credit for films they didn’t direct than anyone else in Hollywood). And from the looks of things so far, Ovredal and the rest of his team understand intimately what made the Scary Stories books legendary.

It is, of course, the illustrations. I have an entire post about them.

The movie releases in August and to date, we’ve seen a handful of posters, a few brief TV spots and very recently, a trailer. Speaking of…

It’s probably too early to tell from this alone whether the finished movie will be successful or not, but the promise is there. Scary Stories obviously lends itself to an anthology format, and it’s hard to tell from this trailer how “anthology” it’s going to be. There’s clearly some kind of framing device involving a cursed book of horror stories, but whether it will be set up as self-contained vignettes or unified around the central characters’ story (like the Goosebumps movie) is anyone’s guess.

Also unclear: the intended audience. There’s not a MPAA rating yet, though one can safely assume it will be either PG-13 or R. The books were made for children, but the illustrations and some of the subject matter caused no small amount of pearl clutching and parent protests back in the 90’s. Those of us who remember these books with their original artwork are all grown adults now, but it would also be kind of weird to turn this into an R-rated affair. I’m betting on PG-13.

The important thing is that the talent for terrifying imagery, of twisted ghouls lumbering down dark hallways, shown so brightly in Jane Doe, has carried over to this movie. The live action recreations of the Pale Woman seen above, Harold the murderous scarecrow, and other nightmarish Gammell visions look fantastic, and largely appear practical to boot. Of course, we can’t fail to mention “the lump” spider eggs story teased in all the previews so far – the number one Scary Stories story for causing involuntary shudders.

Honestly I think this is my most anticipated horror film of 2019 so far. Ari Aster’s Hereditary followup Midsommer is definitely on my radar, but my expectations are higher for this.

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