It’s been a long time since the 80s — also known as the Golden Age Of Unsanitized Terrifying Eye-Scarring Movies Aimed At Children. Anyone who wonders why Stranger Things is half-horror hasn’t seen the kind of films kids had to watch back then — Return To Oz, The Secret of NIMH, The Witches, The Gate, you name it. Scary Stories To Tell In the Dark is an attempt by producer Guillermo del Toro to get back to that era.
Why? Because childhood itself isn’t completely sunny. “Personally, I think the most dangerous time is your childhood,” Del Toro told the crowd at a sneak preview screening this weekend, attended By Polygon’s Karen Han. “It’s always like, ‘It’s a golden time.’ Not for me, man. I was in Shawshank (he’s speaking metaphorically…we think). I was going to a Jesuit school, I was in the prison, having to fight in the yard and this and that.”
“[Director Andre Øvredal] captured that, and it made the kids more complex. A lot of movies simplify kids and make them cute, skateboarding dudes who say one-liners and never get killed. In my movies, kids do die. They are more frail, but at the same, more complex, and they see that darkness, and that extends to this movie.”
Because the MPAA isn’t as asleep as it once was, this film will be slapped with a PG-13 rating, but of course, if PG-13 was enough to keep kids away from anything these days, Avengers Endgame wouldn’t be raking in billions right now.
Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark, based on the classic book, opens August 9.