Horror doesn’t have to be just for adults – in fact, there is a whole subgenre of horror dedicated to the younger members of the family.
Whether its Scooby-Doo (2002) or Ernest Scared Stupid (1991), there is much to love about family-friendly horror. But don’t be fooled into thinking there aren’t a few scares along the way, because while the likes of, say, Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) may seem all smiles and laughs, there is always a dark underbelly at play.
Below are my top three picks for Horror-lite movies aimed at kids. This trio of tales is then followed by a list of additional recommendations, should you want to ease your little ones into horror… without scaring the crap out of ‘em!
The Hole (2009)
Directed by Joe Dante (he of Gremlins (1984) fame), The Hole is a creepy fantasy horror about a group of kids who unleash their worst nightmares. These nightmares stalk the kids, until they can figure a way out of their predicament.
If you’ve never watched The Hole, know that it is filled with jump scares aplenty – so it’s probably best to watch it with the lights on. It’s a movie that often flies under the radar, but trust me, it’s an excellent film and kids (especially young teens) will love it.
Based on the series of children’s horror novels by R.L. Stine, Goosebumps is a spook-filled movie featuring some of Stine’s most famous creations. From Slappy the Dummy to the Lawn Gnomes, they are all here and given the opportunity to shine.
The creepy moments are kept to a minimum, but as stated in the title of the movie, there are times when the little ones are sure to get goosebumps. But when they’re not hiding behind the sofa, they will be laughing at the many jovial moments, as this film offers scares and laughs in equal measure.
OK, so Casper isn’t a scary horror movie, it’s a supernatural comedy, but it is a movie with ‘bite’. In Casper, the bite doesn’t come from scares, but rather from the emotional trappings of the movie.
Casper is a story about loss, about belonging and about the horror of loneliness. At its core, it is a tale about a boy who died, moved on to the spirit world… then forgot who he was.
Now tell me that isn’t frightening?
But Casper isn’t a mean-spirited spirit, and this movie has a lot of heart, which shines through with every viewing. This film is guaranteed to produce a tear, but it is perfect for family viewing.
While the above movies are aimed at a younger demographic, never simply dismiss a movie because you think it’s for kids. That path leads to far too many missed opportunities – way too many in fact – because there are some true gems in the realm of horror-lite.
And, should you want more family friendly(ish) horror, then why not check out:
- The Watcher in the Woods (1980)
- Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)
- Ghostbusters (1984)
- Gremlins (1984)
- The Monster Squad (1987)
- Beetlejuice (1988)
- Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)
- The Witches (1990)
- Addams Family (1991)
- Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)
- Addams Family Values (1993)
- Hocus Pocus (1993)
- The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
- Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998)
- Scooby-Doo (2002)
- Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)
- Hotel Transylvania (2012)
- Frankenweenie (2012)
- ParaNorman (2012)
- Ghostbusters (2016)
- Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018)
Thanks for stopping by to read this post about horror films for the younger members of the family. For more horror posts (not aimed at the youngsters) check out one of the recommended reads below.
- How many Wishmaster films are there?
- What is the best order to watch The Exorcist movies?
- How many Scream films are there?