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A movie version was inevitable. And, thanks in part to the involvement of Guillermo del Toro as cowriter and producer, Scary Stories is the rare PG-13 horror movie that’s genuinely horrifying. Ably directed by André Øvredal (Trollhunter), the movie is too nightmarish for most kids, but teens and adults should find it a creative thrill ride.

Rather than simply present the scary stories in anthology format, del Toro and his cowriters have crafted an overarching narrative. It’s Halloween 1968 in small-town USA, and teenage nerd buddies Stella (Zoe Margaret Colletti), Auggie (Gabriel Rush) and Chuck (Austin Zajur) are out for revenge on the school bullies. Their flight from their oppressors brings them to a house reputedly haunted by a Victorian madwoman who filled a book with stories written in children’s blood.

Stella discovers the book and makes the classic mistake of looking inside. Soon new stories start appearing on the pages, one for each kid who disturbed the house that night. Each plays on a preexisting fear. Each comes true.