Alvin Schwartz's classic children's horror anthology Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark gets a reasonably fun big-screen adaptation from director Andre Ovredal.
The challenge in adapting book to film is that the stories are all too short even to make a Creepshow or The Twilight Zone style anthology movie. So, screenwriters Dan & Kevin Hageman and Guillermo Del Toro structured a story around five kids in 1968 (led by Zoe Margaret Colletti) who find a book of scary stories in a haunted mansion. Shortly thereafter, the stories begin to become reality for the kids.
When the film is putting the source material's stories to screen, it's effective. Many of those sequences have the feel of a nightmare (one will make people who are afraid of spiders want to run out of the theater). But the scenes connecting the scary stories are not quite as good. The characters are mostly stock types. The script also falters a bit when it reaches its conclusion, which seems to be trying to set up a sequel.
With a PG-13 rating, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark might serve as a good entry point for budding adolescent fans of the horror genre. It's scary/icky enough to pack a punch, but not so gruesome that young horror fans should be kept away.