Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark


scenes of sustained horror

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark follows a group of teenagers who inadvertently release a vengeful spirit after taking a story book from a haunted house in this US horror film, based on the short story collections from Alvin Schwartz.

Horror content often involves groups of teens being terrorised by supernatural entities. There are similar elements in Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark, but despite the source material having appeal to young teens, our research has shown that an emphasis on intense and prolonged scary scenes in films and series can be too impactful for young audiences at 12A/12.

For example, in one sequence, a teenager is menaced and attacked by a scarecrow which has come to life. In others, teens are pursued by a zombie-like creature and spiders burst from a bite on a girl’s body. At 12A/12 there is room for some horror content as long as it is not frequent or sustained. Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark’s horror is pervasive and prolonged. Despite being lighter than many horror films at 15 and containing elements of humour, these moments do not provide sufficient relief from the scary sequences to allow the film at a lower age rating.

We tested the film in our latest guidelines research, where we found that participants supported the established 15 rating, ultimately feeling that the horror was too intense to be rated 12A/12 and could scare and disturb young audiences. The prolonged focus on victims’ fear gives the film an intensity that led us to classify the film 15 for scenes of sustained horror.