Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (NC16)

Starring Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Austin Zajur

Directed by André Øvredal

Norwegian director André Øvredal (Trollhunter) and producer/co-writer Guillermo del Toro’s audacious adaptation of author Alvin Schwartz and illustrator Stephen Gammell’s beloved children’s horror books plays like a cross between Stranger Things and Jumanji

Set in 1968, a scary time in America (Nixon running for POTUS, the looming war in Indo-China), Scary Stories… follows a group of small-town teen outcasts (wonderfully played by Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Austin Zajur, Gabriel Rush, and Natalie Ganzhorn) who stumble upon a book in an abandoned mansion. 

It’s no ordinary book: it transforms the kids’ greatest fears into monsters — a raggedy scarecrow, a toeless corpse, an arachnids-filled acne boil, a contorting zombie, and a long-haired woman with a giant grin and a shapeless body (imagine the Michelin Man and Sadako had an ugly baby). 

Don’t let the source material fool you into thinking that this is a feather-weight fright-fest (hello, Goosebumps) — it’s scary enough for grown-ups, but still safe enough for youngsters; it’s bloody good fun without being, well, bloody. (In the US, the movie is rated PG-13; here, IMDA think it’s suitable for viewers 16 and above. Guess the powers that be think it’s too scary for our teens.) 

The tension goes into auto-pilot mode in the hurried home stretch, which sets the kids (or what's left of them) up for more paranormal adventures. That said, if you like what you see, there’s more where that came from: Schwartz wrote 82 short horror tales. (***1/2)

Photos: Shaw Organisation