scary stories to tell in the dark plot

Update: We’ve received word from CBS Films that the synopsis making the rounds is inaccurate. We’ve updated with the correct Scary Stories to Tell the Dark plot below.

The Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark movie starts shooting very soon, as director André Øvredal and producer Guillermo del Toro attempt to turn the iconic, traumatizing children’s books into a memorable motion picture. The books are comprised of short stories, so how do you turn them into a film? Is the adaptation presented in an anthology format, like Creepshow? Or will only one specific story be adapted? We now know the answer. Read on for the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark plot.

Collider has the info on the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark plot, and it’s…not what I was expecting. I have high hopes for this project: I’m a fan of Øvredal and del Toro, and, more than that, the books are sacred to me. As a horror-obsessed kid, I spent hours pouring over the pages of Alvin Schwartz’s folkloric tales of terror, marveling at the horrifying, stylistic artwork of Stephen Gammell. Those Gammell illustrations are what truly made the books so memorable, which immediately makes me wary of a film adaptation. It would be near impossible to translate them to the screen. Still, I remain as optimistic as I can about this film.

But I have to say, this synopsis gives me pause:

Synopsis removed at the request of the studio.

Right off the bat, this “vengeful spirit using scary stories to attack teens” idea is a bit goofy. Øvredal and del Toro might have been wiser to go a full-blown anthology film route, a la Creepshow or the V/H/S films. Individual stories, one after another. But that’s not what’s happening here. Instead, there’s a main narrative unfolding, with the scary stories being used as background coloring.

Still, there’s hope. Harold is my favorite story from the three books – it’s a tale of two farmers who put together a scarecrow, only for the scarecrow to come to life. Things don’t go so well (spoiler alert: the story ends with the scarecrow skinning the farmers). Having Harold be a part of the film is a plus, and I’m immediately interested in any movie that uses Halloween as a setting. It’s still way too early to know how Scary Stories will turn out, and I will remain optimistic for the time being, and hope for the best.

The Scary Stories script hails from Kevin Hageman and Dan Hageman, who co-wrote with del Toro and Patrick Melton & Marcus Dunstan. At one point, del Toro was planning to direct the film himself. Last year, however, he handed directorial duties over to Øvredal. While I’d personally prefer to see del Toro direct this himself, Øvredal is a great horror filmmaker, responsible for Trollhunter and the spooky, atmospheric Autopsy of Jane Doe, so the movie is in good hands.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark will open sometime in 2019.

Update: Here is the correct synopsis, per CBS Films:

Inspired by one of the most terrifying book series of all time, SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK follows a group of teens who must solve the mystery surrounding a wave of spectacularly horrific deaths in their small town.

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