Who doesn’t love a good thrill every once in a while? A lot of us may have been exposed to the idea of monsters, witches, vampires, and other mythical beings when we were kids. They helped us develop a sense of wonder and taught us to conquer our fears. So, you may want to introduce these ideas to your child. One great way of doing so is watching scary movies with them.
However, scary movies can be a coin toss that comes with some risks—such as not being able to sleep at night! So, it may not be best to show them your favorite horror films. Instead, you should take it slow and start with movies appropriate for their age. You need something that they’ll enjoy and smile at when it ends.
So, where do you start? Below, we’ve compiled a list of scary movies that your child may enjoy!
Best Scary Movies That Are Appropriate for Kids
If your child is ready to take on the world of scary movies and face their fears, here are some of the best spooky (but not too spooky) films they may enjoy. Be sure to have a night light ready, just in case!
- The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Courtesy of MGM
The Wizard of Oz is a fun and enchanting classic PG-rated movie that is enjoyable for almost all ages. It’s magical and creative, but there can be some scary things in the film, like the Wicked Witch of the West! This mean, green-skinned character with a long black dress and a pointy hat is an iconic villain that has given many kids a good fright.
The movie follows a teenage girl, Dorothy, who lives on a Kansas farm and gets transported with her little dog into a dreamlike land. It’s full of wonder and adventure, which kids will find engaging and fun.
- Monsters, Inc. (2001)
One of the best scary movies for kids balances the frightening scenes with lots of comedy and lovable characters. The computer-animated Pixar film Monsters, Inc. captures this exceptionally well. Although the premise involves a monster-only world, many kids find the monsters endearing.
The protagonists, Sully and Mike, are coworkers in a company wherein they need to frighten kids into generating electricity from their screams. Then, their lives drastically change when they accidentally bring home a curious little girl who finds them cute. They work together to bring her back to her home.
The wacky antics and comedic skits will indeed offset the few scary parts of the film. You likely won’t need to worry about your child staying up too late because of this!
- Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
Courtesy of Dreamworks Animation
The eccentric claymation duo Wallace & Gromit star in this fun and mildly spooky film. It’s a kid-friendly parody of our favorite classic monster movies and a fun film.
In this film, the odd inventor Wallace and his dog Gromit encounter a giant rabbit that’s up to no good: the Were-Rabbit. It’s wacky and masterfully animated, which makes it one of the best scary movies you can watch with your kids!
- The Addams Family (2019)
This animated movie is great for kids seven and above, as it features a lot of classic slapstick comedy. Although it features everyone’s favorite spooky family, it’s not as dark as the live-action versions that precede it. There are some creepy scenes, but many parents say it’s a kid-friendly film that the whole family can enjoy.
- Frankenweenie (2012)
Courtesy of Disney
This 3D stop-motion animated film may best be reserved for bigger kids. It’s an homage to the classic 1931 monster film Frankenstein.
Frankenweenie features a bright young lad, Victor Frankenstein, who created a makeshift science lab and succeeds in reanimating his bull terrier dog that has passed. His classmates discover the lab and attempt to reanimate other animals, but things immediately go south.
This film may be too much for very young kids, but if your child is older and can process and communicate emotions better, this beautiful film is worth a watch.
- The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Another one for the big kids, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, is a dark fantasy film that features Jack Skellington, the King of Halloween Town. He stumbles upon Christmas Town, a place that represents a holiday he hasn’t encountered before. He then devises a scheme to take over and “improve” Christmas Town.
Although designed with spooky elements, The Nightmare Before Christmas has lovable characters, excellent animation, and catchy songs that you and your child can enjoy.
- Spirited Away (2001)
Courtesy of Disney
The winner of the 2003 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, Spirited Away is widely regarded as a masterpiece by the famed director Hayao Miyazaki. It’s a colorful film that brings the characters and scenes to life.
The movie follows the story of a ten-year-old girl whose family moves to a new place. They then encounter a world full of magical creatures, such as witches, spirits, and other exciting characters.
Although it has some spooky scenes, the film is full of life and adventure, making it a thrilling movie that won’t frighten your little ones.
- Goosebumps (2015)
Goosebumps is based on a popular children’s horror book series by R.L. Stine. It shows a lot of spooky creatures like werewolves, living dummies, and ghouls, but the film shows a lot of comedy and silly antics to offset these aspects. It even stars the beloved comedian Jack Black!
- Muppets Haunted Mansion (2021)
Courtesy of Disney
Kids love the Muppets! Because of this, they might also love the 2021 supernatural comedy puppet film Muppets Haunted Mansion. In this movie, the silly but lovable characters Gonzo and Pepe face the challenge of staying inside a haunted mansion overnight. Many funny antics ensue as they run into the area’s spooky inhabitants.
Like many Muppets films, this movie is fun and engaging. It generally has excellent reviews and can be an entertaining way to help your kids learn to face their fears.
- Corpse Bride (2005)
Corpse Bride is another classic Tim Burton stop-motion fantasy movie. The story follows a man who accidentally marries a corpse in a Victorian-era village. The bride escorts him to the Land of the Dead, and they attempt to make things right.
The movie has fantastic music and a great atmosphere, so it’s perfect for watching a mildly scary movie with your child. However, because the film involves death, you may want to put this off until your little one understands the concept.
- Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)
Courtesy of Disney
This 1975 fantasy science-fiction Escape to Witch Mountain shows the story of the orphaned twins Tony and Tia. They each have magical abilities, and people want to exploit them for their powers.
Aided by their powers, the twins escaped towards a place they call Witch Mountain. Along the way, they’re helped by a cranky man named Jason O’Day. It’s a thrilling adventure that your child may love!
Frequently Asked Questions
Should kids watch scary movies?
Experts say that the answer to this question can be complicated, as there are pros and cons to watching scary movies for kids. Some kids enjoy the fright factor because of the rush they get (similar to how some of us like thrilling rides like roller coasters). However, watching too scary movies can make some kids more anxious.
So, it’s best to exercise caution and watch out for any signs of distress when you watch scary movies with your child. If they tense up, cry, run away, or cover their eyes, it may be better to watch something else. You’d want them to enjoy the experience!
It’s also a good idea to see if your child is ready for scary movies. Some kids may easily be frightened, while some are brave souls that can handle a little more thrill.
How old does your child need to be before watching scary movies?
Kids under five are still grasping the distinction between fantasy and reality, so it’s best not to show them any scary movies. Once they reach five to seven years old, however, they may be able to take on mild thrills. However, always start light and fun—put away that copy of It or Halloween!
How can you comfort your child when they’re scared?
Helping your kid deal with fear while watching a scary movie can teach them to regulate their emotions. If they’re scared that the character might be in danger, you can reassure them that they’ll be okay. Young children won’t mind spoilers!
You may comfort them by holding their hands, giving them their favorite toys, or hugging them. If they need more reassurance by having you check under their beds or sleeping next to you, you may do so. Always be supportive, and never demean them or call them “babies” when they get scared.