August’s theatrical release of “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” showcased a film based on the same-titled book series written by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell. The original books consist of three volumes, each containing numerous short stories and accompanying illustrations.
The new film adaption was directed by André Øvredal (“The Autopsy of Jane Doe”). Guillermo del Toro (who is best known for “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “The Shape of Water,” the latter of which won Best Picture Oscars in 2018) helped to produce the film.
Liike many others who read the books, I wondered if an adaptation could be successful, and how faithfully the film would follow the original creatures depicted as drawings in the books. The adaptation does remain faithful to the creatures that Gammell drew. As with any del Toro film, the makeup work is impressive and even the CGI was realistic and made for a believable experience.
The strong suit of the film lies in its pacing. The way the stories are revealed to the audience and characters adds a time-sensitive element to the story, giving it a layer of suspense and intensity.
I have two problems with this film, though. One is that it is marketed as a horror movie. Do not let the title mislead you: This is not a scary film, but an unsettling one. I found it to be more fantastical than horrific.
Secondly, the Sarah Bellows storyline, which was not part of the original book series, felt predictable and unoriginal. When her her backstory is revealed at the end of the movie, it feels like a cop-out. It is dull and lessens the overall intensity of the film.
Although parts of the film are faithful to the source material, I wouldn’t say the the movie version of “Scary Stories” lives up to the books. Despite this, it is still an entertaining “horror” film for anyone looking for a fun movie to watch with friends.