To someone who wasn't absolutely terrified by Alvin Schwartz's famous children book "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" as a child, this film may resonate as a bit of a flop with a predictable storyline and mildly scary stories with loose endings.
However, if you're like me whose childhood was haunted by Schwartz's gruesome stories and eerie illustrations, the film version resonates a little differently.
Seeing the characters from the one-page illustrations of the stories come to life was more than my fragile heart could bear. If you thought reading the stories scared you, watching them is absolutely horrifying.
The film combines a few of Schwartz's most terrifying short stories including "Harold," "The Red Spot" and "The Big Toe" into a cohesive storyline based in 1968. Stella (Zoe Margaret Colletti), an aspiring writer, and her group of friends stumble into an abandoned house once belonging to the Bellows family who kept their daughter Sarah hidden away for years.
The kids find Sarah's book of scary stories and soon realize that as stories appear in the book (written in blood) they begin to happen in real life. Her friends' names begin to appear in the book, and their fates written in the story are sealed.
The storyline by itself, to be frank, is very weak. It's been done before. Stories about villains tormenting unknowing children to get their revenge only to have the children teach them about forgiving their perpetrators have been done over and over again. Had this movie been a stand-alone original film, it would have absolutely flopped.
What sets this film apart is the way it plays on the childhood fears of those who read the books. Seeing the stories that scared me as a child come to life in a movie theater was incredibly unsettling in a way that horror movies should ultimately make people feel.
If you were a fan of the original books, this film is a must see. If you are a horror movie fan who is unfamiliar with the books, you may want to sit this one out.