Is the Movie Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Based on the Book?

Are you a fan of horror movies and books? If so, you may have heard about Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

This book series by Alvin Schwartz has been popular among young readers for decades. But did you know that a movie based on these stories was released in 2019? In this article, we’ll explore whether the film is true to its source material.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark: The Book

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a collection of short horror stories written by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell. The first book was published in 1981, followed by two sequels: More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (1984) and Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones (1991).

The stories are inspired by folklore and urban legends from around the world, ranging from ghostly encounters to supernatural creatures. What sets these tales apart is their chilling imagery and dark themes, which are amplified by Gammell’s eerie illustrations.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark: The Movie

In 2019, director André Øvredal and producer Guillermo del Toro brought Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark to life on the big screen. The movie follows a group of teenagers who discover a mysterious book filled with scary stories written by Sarah Bellows, a troubled girl who died years ago. As they read through the book, they realize that each story is coming true, putting their lives in danger.

But how faithful is the movie adaptation to the original books?

The Plot

While some elements of the film are original, such as the framing device of a haunted book connected to Sarah Bellows’ tragic past, many of the individual stories featured are based on those found within Schwartz’s books. For example, the infamous “Harold” story from the first book is brought to life in the movie, as well as “The Red Spot” and “The Big Toe.”

The Tone

One of the most striking similarities between the book and the movie is their tone. Both are aimed at young adults and have a spooky, unsettling atmosphere that’s sure to send shivers down your spine. There are moments of gore and violence in the film that aren’t present in the books, but overall, it maintains a similar level of suspense and horror.

The Illustrations

Perhaps one of the most significant differences between the book and movie is the illustrations. While Stephen Gammell’s artwork is iconic and integral to the experience of reading Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, it’s absent from the film adaptation. Instead, the movie relies on practical effects and CGI to bring its monsters to life.


So, is Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark based on its source material? The answer is yes – while there are some changes made for cinematic purposes, much of what makes Schwartz’s books so terrifying has been faithfully adapted for modern audiences. If you’re a fan of horror movies or books (or both), this spine-chilling tale is definitely worth checking out!