HN Entertainment was able to attend a special event held yesterday for the upcoming horror film Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark from CBS Films that was directed by André Øvredal and co-written/produced by Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water). Our very own Nicholas Whitcomb was able to attend and briefly speak with producer and screenwriter Guillermo del Toro about the film’s setting, the use of practical effects for the monsters, along with hypothetical teases for a sequel (if that were to happen).

HN: First up, I wanted to ask the film is set during the 60s towards the end of the period, what did you want to capture about the American zeitgeist in the film?

DEL TORO: “Well, we wanted to get to a moment to when the draft was compulsatory and wanted to comment on a time when you are doubting your reality because you are being told stories about a war, about reality, all of that is underneath.”

“We don’t want to make it text we want to make it sort of context and the context is important for the characters. They have no Google, they have no cell phones, they are not jaded, they are not savvy. A kid of 15-16 in 1968-1969 is a kid of 12 now [in modern time] in terms of tools to deal with the world from an informational point of view or investigation.”

HN: I love the idea that you did do it in a period like this because it does take away the technological aspect. I love that the characters are using the radio and walkie talkies to communicate. 

DEL TORO: “Not only that, it becomes a time where written and verbal stories are more present. Like right now, we would follow a tend or you could follow a thread on Twitter, you would go to a blog or Facebook. But back then, the written word or the oral communication was so crucial, I wanted to have that.”

HN: What kind of challenges did you have creating the creatures practically? Because I know you mentioned that you wanted to bring the monsters to life practically rather than digitally, could you talk about that decision process? 

DEL TORO: “What is very difficult is there a couple of monsters that needed to have personality, no just be scary but personality too and that’s the hardest sculptural thing you can do on a sculpted monster. We worked with Norman Cabrera and Mike Hill, who designed/executed the water creature with me along with Legacy Effects. Guys that I’ve worked with over and over through the years, guys that I think can deliver. Thanks to their level of sophistication.”

HN: You did mention the film is not an anthology it’s all connected through a framing device, how did the filmmaking team get to that framing device and when was that decided?

DEL TORO: “That was the first thing I pitched. They had developed two screenplays, that I didn’t read, and I came to it after the first two screenplays. I said: ‘Please, I don’t want to read them, I want to start from scratch’. I’ve always been fascinated by books that write themselves and that notion was that somebody had left a book that read you and writes whatever story you needed to hear to be terrified.”

HN: Reading the stories when I was younger there was an element that was so unnerving about those stories, a psychological element to the actual horror. Is that something you try to get across in the film? 

DEL TORO: “Horror, like humor, is best when it hits you. I’m pretty sure if you read these stories as an adult they’d hit you in another kind of way than they’d hit you as a kid. What we tried to preserve is what made them work in their original form which is the simplicity of a campfire tale. There is an elegance to that simplicity.”

HN: Obviously, the film isn’t out yet and there are tonnes of stories from the different books. Have you already sort of mapped-out if there could be other ideas for future films. 

DEL TORO: “No, what I can tell you is that there are another six or seven that were in the final rounds that could be used, but no we don’t. One thing at a time.”

Guillermo del Toro also confirmed the film’s rating will be PG-13.

A new trailer for the film also made its way online and you can check that out below along with the horror film’s synopsis. The release date has been set for August 9th.

It’s 1968 in America. Change is blowing in the wind…but seemingly far removed from the unrest in the cities is the small town of Mill Valley where for generations, the shadow of the Bellows family has loomed large. It is in their mansion on the edge of town that Sarah, a young girl with horrible secrets, turned her tortured life into a series of scary stories, written in a book that has transcended time—stories that have a way of becoming all too real for a group of teenagers who discover Sarah’s terrifying home.

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