Scary Stories

Parent Review: Is “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” TOO Scary for Kids?

If you or your kids are fans of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark book series, you don’t need to read this review. You probably have your tickets purchased and are prepared for it to NOT be as good as the books (I haven’t read them but according to those who have, it isn’t). You’ll see it anyway and you will be prepared for those terrifying images because you’ve already seen them. Illustrator Stephen Gammell was partly responsible for the series’ enormous success 30 years ago, because his depictions were so original…and horrifying. Some of those images are expertly transferred to the big screen, and they are what blew me and my daughters out of the water.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark the movie takes place in Mill Valley, a small town like any other in 1968, with it’s gossip and urban legends. One in particular surrounds an abandoned house and it’s alleged occupants who went missing years ago. Some local teens sneak into the house on Halloween night and find a book that might hold answers to those lingering questions.
This version of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is an attempt to weave together separate stories from the books, so it isn’t entirely cohesive. It’s also frustratingly vague, leaving questions to be answered in what appears to be upcoming sequels. It all comes down to the way the individual stories are depicted and, to that extent, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark delivers. This is also where you need to consider your young film-fans and whether or not they’ll be ready for this. I took my 12 and 15-year-olds to see it and, though they watched through their fingers during the big scares (my youngest even took off her glasses a few times), they both insisted that “it wasn’t that bad.” These particular scenes are genuinely chilling, but the story itself isn’t strong enough to maintain that level of terror.
This might be a good thing for those who are introducing their kids to scary movies, but it could also be a let down for more seasoned movie buffs. I still enjoyed Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and I always appreciate a horror flick I can share with my kids. Even if SOME of those more frightening images followed me home. (see above…YIKES!) (B-)

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