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SYFY WIRE Scary Stories to tell in the dark

What's The Latest on That Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Sequel?

The project isn't dead, but it has taken quite a beating from COVID and the ongoing writers' strike.

By Josh Weiss

In late April of 2020, news broke that a sequel to Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was in active development with the original crew of director André Øvredal, executive producer Guillermo del Toro, and screenwriters Dan and Kevin Hageman. 

Together, they'd whip up another outing based on the classic anthologies of horror stories written by Alvin Schwartz and macabrely illustrated by Stephen Gamell. Some of those drawings are sometimes scarier than the stories themselves; if you know, you know. In any case, a Scary Stories sequel was inevitable once the first movie (now streaming on Peacock) racked up plenty of favorable reviews and a worldwide gross of $104 million against a modest budget of $25 million.

RELATED: The scary stories in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark ranked by how scary the stories are

But by the time a sophomore chapter was announced, the world was dealing with an invisible threat more terrifying than Pale Lady, cheek-dwelling spider babies, and the segmented Jangly Man. We are, of course, referring to the novel coronavirus, which understandably sidelined all Hollywood projects as humanity grappled with a new viral agent in its midst.

Will we get a sequel to Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark?

It's hard enough getting a film production off the ground in the best of times. Add a deadly pandemic into the mix, and the characteristically slow entertainment industry grinds to a maddening crawl that would fill even the slowest snail on Earth with pity.

In the years since April 2020, Øvredal, del Toro, and the Hageman siblings moved on to other projects like The Last Voyage of the Demeter (now available to rent or purchase on digital platforms), the Academy Award-winning Pinocchio, and Star Trek: Prodigy.

And yet the world held its breath and wondered: Would Stella Nicholls (Zoe Colletti) be able to bring her friends back with the aid of Sarah Bellows' magical book? The first Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark ends on an upbeat cliffhanger, but a cliffhanger nonetheless, as Stella, her father (Dean Norris), and Ruth Steinberg (Natalie Ganzhorn) drive off in the hopes of recovering Auggie (Gabriel Rush) and Chuck (Austin Zajur). Tommy Milner (Austin Abrams) can remain in scarecrow form — he was a racist jerk. 

RELATED: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and other retro horror books for children

The good news, is that the sequel — which has since moved over to Paramount from Lionsgate — isn't dead, though its progress has been stymied by COVID-19 and then the WGA strike.

"We have a story. We have a script," Øvredal revealed to IGN while promoting Demeter last month. "We've been working on the script as late as last year and even slightly into this year. The process obviously stopped with the strike — but it's alive, for sure. COVID and then [The Last Voyage of the Demeter] eating up two years of my life certainly put a dent in the progress."

With the young actors getting older, the next installment will most likely jump forward in time to the mid-to-late 1970s. That opens up all kinds of possibilities for the story, which could once again juxtapose tales of terror with real-world history like Watergate and the end of the Vietnam War.

Why wait for Halloween? Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is now streaming on Peacock alongside a crypt chock full of horror offerings.