Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

“If you’ve read any of Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, chances are you’ve also had a few sleepless nights because of them.”

The compilations of scary stories, written between 1981 and 1991, brought urban legends and myths to life, terrifying generations of children with tales of a vengeful scarecrow named Harold, a zombie searching for its missing toe, a dismembered ‘jangly man’ and the like. After a few false starts, those stories have finally leaped off the pages and onto cinema screens, with the promise of traumatising, but thrilling, a whole new generation of children.

And they don’t disappoint. Set in 1968 in the Pennsylvanian town of Mill Valley, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark centres around a group of friends — Stella (Zoe Colletti), Auggie (Gabriel Rush) and Chuck (Austin Zajur ) — and newcomer Ramon (Michael Garza), who is welcomed into the fold after he saves the trio from local bully Tommy (Austin Abrams).

Laying low for the rest of the night, the group decide to visit the Bellows mansion, an abandoned estate reportedly haunted by the ghost of a girl Sarah, who was locked up in the mansion by her family.  Inside, the group find a secret chamber where Sarah was imprisoned. Stella, an amateur horror writer, finds Sarah’s journal of horror stories, and takes it home … a really bad idea and things start to go from bad to worse as Sarah’s stories start to come to life, picking off the friends one by one.

Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark literally has horror genre great Guillermo del Toro written all over it. The Spanish director and filmmaker co-produced and wrote the story, working alongside Noerwegian director André Øvredal, who was also at the helm of the fantastic The Autopsy of Jane Doe. Decent acting from the young cast is complemented by some super cool special effects and make up too, and the film versions of the various monsters are faithful replicas of those in the books. With some pretty horrific scenes, this one might not be the best choice for younger children, but tweens into all things spooky will love it. And for older audiences, while you can see the jump scares coming a mile off, they’re good. REALLY good.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (Universal) is released in Australia on September 26.

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