At a preview of footage from the film adaptation of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, producer Guillermo del Toro said, “In my movies, kids do die.”
It’s a bold statement to make about a film geared towards younger audiences, though perhaps a little less unexpected from a horror movie.
The film, which imagines the creatures populating the stories as the creations of a ghost seeking revenge for past misdeeds, doesn’t shy away from peril, but there’s a fundamental weakness to the way it tries to wrap it all up.
Chuck (Austin Zajur) is physically pressed into the body of the pale lady, consumed by the mass of flesh.
Scary Stories isn’t crying for a sequel (though it would be great to see some of Stephen Gammell’s other illustrations brought to life), and it also feels like a cop-out.
There’s so much that the film is trying to address — setting the story around the Nixon election and the Vietnam War as well as incorporating racial tensions in America — that the coddling, “they’re all fine, actually” ending comes across as a sharp reversal.
By the end, there was no sense of light at the end of the tunnel — these stories were to be told in, and took place in, the dark.