If you’re like us and have been a fan of horror since you were young enough to leave out cookies for the monster under the bed, dressing up in your own Halloween masks to scare your siblings, then you’ve been as excited as we were about Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark released earlier this month! We’ve been reading these books for years and couldn’t wait until this long-awaited film finally made its way into the theaters. Guillermo del Toro and André Øvredal have teamed up to produce a film that is friendly to kids with its PG-13 rating but is scary enough to give adults a great scare while they’re at it.
Needless to say, walking the delicate line of producing quality horror while maintaining a kid-friendly rating is more than a little challenging. They managed to pull it off by coming in under the MPAA’s minimum bar of “Terror/violence, disturbing images, thematic elements, language including racial epithets, and brief sexual references.” With Del Toro and Øvredal’s dedication to the project, they pulled together a movie that humanizes children and their fears without sacrificing their kid-friendly rating.
Del Toro has been quoted as saying that “I want this to be a nice family horror film.” He went on to stress his distaste with films that “Simplify kids and make them cute” while not making them believable victims. Their children in his film will see the complexity and darkness that comes from the film, and a few of them will die.
Øvredal had noted that it was tricky to hit exactly the right balance with this film. On-screen blood was deemed a no-no by the duo, but they didn’t skimp so much on the horrific elements that the target audience would be too young. The books are an incredible addition to the horror universe and deserved to be honored for the stories they tell and the material they used to do so.
So what can we say about the film? Three teens are working to solve a series of macabre and unexpected deaths in their town. The year is 1968 in America and change is coming, but this small town has been largely removed from all of the upheaval. In a remote mansion in town lives a girl named Sarah who holds secrets that have tortured her entire life, turning it into one long horrorfest. The book from which these horrors come is not bound by time, and the tales it holds become a horrifying reality for the teenagers who discover what Sarah is hiding.
We’ve been a fan of these books for years now, inspiring many of our scariest Halloween costumes, and we had a lot of faith in the duos ability to bring the stories to life in a way that is both up to date and honors nostalgia. We are glad to say that they have done just that, and this film delivers in a way that will creep and excite children and adults alike.