Prepare to sleep with the light on, because the official trailer for Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is here — and it's terrifying. If you're out of the loop, the three-book collection of scary short stories first released in 1981 is coming to theaters on Aug. 9. If you thought reading about the "Jangly Man" was nightmare-inducing, just wait until you watch the trailer for yourself.
The film is directed by André Øvredal and co-written by Daniel and Kevin Hageman (Hotel Transylvania), along with Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water), and it follows a group of young friends as they face their fears in order to save their lives. After finding a book of scary stories inside a haunted house, the stories start coming to life. Talk about a real-life horror story, right?
As protagonist Stella (Zoe Margaret Colletti) says in the trailer, "Some people think if we repeat stories often enough, they become real. They make us who we are and that can be scary." Well, that's exactly what seems to happen. And after it does, Stella finally realizes she and her friends are in danger. "What if what happens in the book is exactly what happened for real?" she declares at one point.
At the end of March, Bustle received the following synopsis for the movie in a press release. It reads:
"It’s 1968 in America. Change is blowing in the wind...but seemingly far removed from the unrest in the cities is the small town of Mill Valley where for generations, the shadow of the Bellows family has loomed large. It is in their mansion on the edge of town that Sarah, a young girl with horrible secrets, turned her tortured life into a series of scary stories, written in a book that has transcended time—stories that have a way of becoming all too real for a group of teenagers who discover Sarah’s terrifying home."
As teased in the trailer, many well-known stories from the books written by Alvin Schwartz appear in the movie, including "Harold," "The Red Spot," "The Big Toe," "Pale Lady," and "The Cat's Paw." To see them in real life versus written on a page and with accompanying illustrations is absolutely hair-raising.
The Jangly Man, Harold the scarecrow, that extremely gross spider-filled red spot, and the Pale Lady are certainly enough to give anyone nightmares, but even more so those individuals who grew up reading Schwartz's stories. And it sounds like the stories will be even darker in the movie. As del Toro told reporters (via Polygon) Monday during a sneak preview in New York City,
"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."
If that quote from del Toro and the 2-minute and 40 second trailer for the CBS Films and Lionsgate creation is enough to give you heart palpitations, just imagine what the full-length movie will be like — and in a dark theater, too.