“Scary Stories To Tell in The Dark” captures horror of the books despite PG-13 rating

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The book series Scary Stories topped the American Library Association’s list of the 100 most frequently challenged books from 1990-1999. People demanded for the books to be removed from libraries. But it inspired the movie adaptation Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark that earned $21 million at its box office debut, according to Business Insider. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Jacynth Apora

The book series Scary Stories topped the American Library Association’s list of the 100 most frequently challenged books from 1990-1999. People demanded for the books to be removed from libraries. But it inspired the movie adaptation Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark that earned $21 million at its box office debut, according to Business Insider.

Before the success, the books were condemned. In 1993, the Chicago Tribune interviewed mother and former elementary teacher Sandy Vanderburg, who argued that children should not be exposed to the material in Scary Stories

“If these books were movies, they’d be R-rated because of the graphic violence. There’s no moral to them. The bad guys always win. And they make light of death,” Vanderburg said.

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark proves that the books do have substance that can be absorbed by its target audience. It is rated PG-13 and still captures the gruesome essence of the books. The characters encounter ghastly situations. When Auggie accidentally ate a toe, it made me physically gag. A scarecrow that Tommy constantly mutilated came to life and stabbed him with a pitchfork. The lack of blood was clever and made the scene uniquely unsettling. The camera focused on the holes that the pitchfork made through Tommy’s shirt, and then it showed him pulling hay out of his mouth, as his hands became hay too. Once he completely transformed into a scarecrow, insects crawled on his face like it was a real corpse. 

The movie does the opposite of handling death lightly. The decision to make the deaths permanent was important to the producer Guillermo del Toro, because it makes the audience care about what has been lost in the destruction, according to CinemaBlend.

Morality is certainly not left in the dark. The theme of how stories have an effect on people is portrayed through the characters’ backstories. Stella, the protagonist, convinced the vengeful spirit Sarah to stop being the monster that everyone told her she was, and promised that she would tell the true story of what happened to her. Sarah accepted this by making Stella write the story with her own blood, emphasizing that stories become a part of people. There are stories that need to be told, no matter how terrifying, because as Stella said,

“Stories can hurt. Stories can heal.”