“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” (Lionsgate)

Austin Zajur stars in a scene from the movie "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS/CBS Films)

By Catholic News Service

Classic horror motifs are given fresh life in this fun chiller, set in 1968 Pennsylvania, about a teenage aspiring writer (Zoe Colletti) who, together with her two best pals (Gabriel Rush and Austin Zajur) and a stranger (Michael Garza) the trio have just befriended, pay a Halloween-night visit to a haunted house from which she purloins a tome that turns out to be capable of unleashing mayhem. As the scribe and the out-of-towner fall for each other, each character is imperiled in turn when a story about him or her is magically added to the stolen volume.

In adapting a series of books by Alvin Schwartz, screenwriters and brothers Dan and Kevin Hageman throw in the ghost of a troubled girl from the turn of the last century for good measure. Director Andre Ovredal presides over a spirited, often funny collection of eerie urban legends come to life.

Brief moments of harsh but bloodless violence, sexual references, a scatological theme, a few uses of profanity, a handful of milder oaths, occasional crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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