Back in 1981 Alvin Schwartz released the first volume of his Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark book series. Aimed at introducing children and teens to the nightmare world of folk horror. His books not only proving a huge success, but also inspiring a whole generation of horror fans. With tales of mysterious creatures, ghosts and things that go bump in the night. Equally inspiring later anthologies of children’s horror such as R.L Stine’s Goosebumps series.
The journey from books to film has therefore taken a long and surprising amount of time. Especially when considering the cultural impact of his books in defining folk horror for a whole generation. And with the visionary Guillermo del Toro sitting in the producers chair. Hopes were extremely high for the first film outing.
Unlike the recent film adaptations of Goosebumps, Scary Movies to Tell in the Dark opts for teenage/adult film territory. Shaking off the children’s entertainment label in favour of the folk horror at the heart of Schwartz’ work. However, this also creates a dilemma in bringing the books to the screen. By attempting to find a 15+ audience that identifies with the source material of childhood fears and campfire stories. While in turn risking the alienation of the core younger teenagers. In favour of older cinema audiences far more used to gore driven, shock horror.