Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark may become the movie that Guillermo del Toro directs as his followup to his stylish Gothic Romance love letter Crimson Peak, now that Daredevil season 1 showrunner Steven S. DeKnight is stepping in to take del Toro’s former spot at the helm of the developing Pacific Rim 2. The Scary Stories movie was still in the very early stages of pre-production when del Toro became officially involved with its development, just a couple of weeks into 2016.
Although del Toro is guiding the creative direction on the Scary Stories film adaptation, he’s not working on the film’s screenplay alone. Previous script drafts for the project were put together by Saw franchise writing duo Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, as well as screenwriter John August (Big Fish, Frankenweenie). Now, however, another writing duo altogether is collaborating with del Toro on a fresh Scary Stories script draft.
THR is reporting that writing duo Dan and Kevin Hageman are working alongside del Toro on the Scary Stories screenplay, having recently collaborated with the filmmaker on the upcoming Netflix original animated series, Trollhunters. Here is the statement that del Toro gave THR, regarding the news:
“I have had such a great time working with the Hagemans on Trollhunters — and they have proven to be such brilliant writers — that the fit for this material was just perfect: they grew up with the books, they love the genre and they are smart and emotional when writing characters.”
The Scary Stories book series, as written by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell, comprises three different short story collections: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (released in 1981), More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (1984) and Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones (1991). Schwartz’ writing, which re-tells various urban legends and folktales of both the horror and horror/comedy genre variety, were immensely popular but have often been in danger of being banned (or have been banned) from elementary school libraries due to their disturbing subject matter and Gammell’s stylishly-grotesque drawings. Even del Toro has admitted that Gammell’s illustrations are often “scary as f***.”
Seeing as the Hagemans are best known for working on more kid-friendly projects like Hotel Transylvania, The LEGO Movie, and the Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu animated TV series (as well as the upcoming Ninjago animated movie), it stands to reason that del Toro’s Scary Stories film adaptation will be more appropriate for younger viewers than, saw, the version that Dunstan and Melton might have put together. On the other hand, seeing as del Toro is also the director of such films as the R-Rated supernatural drama The Devil’s Backbone and dark fairy tale Pan’s Labyrinth, it’s a fair bet than even a “kid-friendly” Scary Stories movie will be plenty freaky, under his supervision.
A Guillermo del Toro-directed Scary Stories film adaptation could indeed make for a creepy, yet complex and multi-layered, kids film along the lines of Henry Selick’s Coraline adaptation – or even del Toro’s abandoned Pinocchio stop-motion animated film. However, the filmmaker is also known for keeping multiple plates spinning at once and often doesn’t end up directing them all at the end of the day – so we’ll be sure and keep you updated on his involvement with the Scary Stories film, for that reason.
We’ll bring you more information on Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark when we have it.