The first reviews for the Guillermo del Toro-penned and André Øvredal-directed Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark are in and the verdict is quite a mixed bag.
Opinions appear split on whether the anthology movie is actually scary or not, and the conclusions are mostly based on two factors: the audience age and whether or not you read the source material. If you loved the books as kids, it sounds like you'll love the upcoming adaptation. If you didn't, and you're above the PG13 bracket, then it might leave you wanting more.
While some say Scary Stories delivers gore, chills, solid stories, and plenty of terrifying moments, others are focused on the apparent amount of filler used to pad out the narrative. Find the trailer below and keep scrolling for our round up of the most informative critic reviews.
The stories are solid
The Wrap, Monica Castillo
True to its word, 'Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark' delivers an entrancing thriller that explores the power of narratives with a few screams to boot ... [it] feels surprisingly welcoming for a horror movie, leaving aside excess gore and chills for a solid yarn about teens on a thrilling horror adventure romp in their small town.
Don't expect happy endings
Forbes, Luke Y. Thompson
And though this is a PG-13 movie designed to be a "first horror film" for children and squeamish parents or grandparents, there are real consequences. This is not one of those family-friendly frightfests where the victims all get magically restored at the end ... this movie is not afraid to let them have it in the ghastliest of ways.
It's scary but there's a lot of filler
Bloody Disgusting, William Bibbiani
There’s no shortage of excellent scary moments in this movie, but you’ll have to trudge through some tedium to get there. 'Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark' doesn’t do a disservice to the original books ... But in between those excellent scares there’s a lot of filler, a lot of perfunctory plotting and a lot of mediocre character development. 'Scary Stories' isn’t bad, and sometimes it’s really scary, but it doesn’t play like a standalone story that needed to be told.
Fans of the books will love it
CinemaBlend, Eric Eisenberg
This is a movie that spent years in development as filmmakers worked to crack the code on how to bring the material to life, and that time has wonderfully paid off. Not only is it a skin-crawling adventure by itself, there is also a clear setup for more stories to be told with a sequel, and it’s an opportunity you hope it gets. Clearly it’s not for the most sensitive of children, but 'Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark' knows that, and instead goes after a direct target: those of all ages who have been reading and loving the books for decades. And that audience is going to love it.
But if you haven't read them, don't bother
Variety, Owen Gleiberman
Yet if you watch “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” simply as the movie it is, what you’ll experience is a period teenage horror film at once wide-eyed and scattershot, one that never begins to sustain a mood, and that projects, a bit too callowly, its eagerness to cash in on the demo of “It” and “Stranger Things.” If the movie had simply been a collection of short tales, it might have been effective (though omnibus films are notoriously difficult to bring off, or to turn into hits). In attempting to meld the stories together and give them some sketchy coherence, the movie basically becomes an extended framing device that’s larger than any of the stories in it.
Not for horror fans but kids will be satisfied
IGN, Rosie Knight
This likely won't satisfy hardcore horror hounds in the way they were hoping, but as a kids movie that also dedicates itself to being truly scary it both satisfies and succeeds as well as occasionally surprising.
The scary bits are gruesome but not affective
IndieWire, David Ehrlich
Here is an R-rated concept that’s been watered down until it passed for a PG-13 movie; it’s plenty harrowing and full of gruesome effects, but it never feels dangerous ... The result is a movie where even the most frightening things never feel like they might follow you home.
The monsters miss the mark a bit
The Hollywood Reporter, Keith Uhlich
So how about the monsters? They're alright — very much in keeping with del Toro's fresh-from-the-pages-of-my-sketchbook! ethos. You can practically see the impassioned pencil shadings ... all of these beasties are "scary." Though they'd be much more so if they felt less like franchisable IP and more like fervent expressions of the ills of the eras on which the film aims to comment.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark lands in theaters nationwide tomorrow, August 9.