The Dove Take:
Adaptation of horror stories is filled with jump-scares, well-realized monsters and some negative content.
A group of teens face their fears in order to save their lives.
Wanna hear a story?
Once upon a time, in the early 1980s, the first in a trilogy of books was published. Terrifying and controversial, they told short stories with horrifying illustrations. The first book was called Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. They’ve haunted bookshelves ever since.
Wait. Did you hear something? Gasp! Don’t take your eyes off this screen. Do you hear it? Don’t check if there’s anything there. Don’t turn around! It’s there …
It’s the movie!
As an adaptation, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark isn’t too remarkable or too underwhelming. And, jump-scares aside, the books are so much more terrifying. Really. I mean it. The stories are concise and compelling. And the illustrations? If you haven’t seen the illustrations, don’t look them up. Don’t open up another tab and copy and paste the phrase “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark original illustrations.” Consider this a cliché warning at the beginning of a horror story.
It’s a horror film with training wheels. It tries to scare/startle you (and may succeed) then turns around and assures you things are okay. It steps into sequences of horror, mostly jump-scares, monsters, and body-horror before retreating to a comfortable teen-adventure framework. The effects and sound design are solid, attempting to translate the stories and illustrations (you didn’t look those up, right?) to the screen. But on its adaptation journey, it’s gathered some extra content. Some of the horror, gore, and dark supernatural content is still there, but now accompanied by language (including a racist term said by a nasty character) and more.
Some folks looking for a scary-and-slightly-silly time might find it satisfying, while others may find its content and intentions sour and sickening.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is not Dove-Approved.