Pumpkins are lit, and people would go out trick-or-treating while others would opt to stay in and watch scary movies with the lights off.
However, having kids watch scary movies has been a controversial topic since time immemorial.
There have been arguments for adults to cover their kids’ eyes when watching a movie deemed ‘too scary’ for them or even to be cautious of what they show their kids, but what they don’t necessarily know is that not all scary movies are for adults.
In fact, 35 Best Scary Movies for Kids and Teenagers, written by Rohan Sinha on Sept. 19, 2022 for MomJunction, lists a number of movies that are deemed kid-friendly while also being scary in their own right.
For example, in this list, some movies listed that are kid-friendly are “Frankenweenie” and “Spirited Away.” “Frankenweenie” is a 2012 stop-motion animated comedy horror film based on Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” except Victor Frankenstein is shown as a 10-year-old boy.
The film shares “Frankenstein’s” story, but with some minor changes: Instead of bringing his monster back to life, he revives his dog that had been killed in an accident. Like the original, the film is also in black-and-white, which packs in some creepiness while also making it fun for the little ones to enjoy.
“Spirited Away,” a 2001 animated film produced by Studio Ghibli, a Japanese production company famous for making other animated films such as “Ponyo,” “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Howl’s Moving Castle,” follows the story of Chihiro, a 10-year-old girl who moves to a new neighborhood and discovers the mysterious town of Kami (神, this character means deity in Kanji, one of Japan’s three writing systems).
After her parents are turned into pigs by the witch Yubaba, Chihiro takes a job at the bathhouse Yubaba is in charge of to free herself and her parents and return to the world of the living.
While being haunted and chased around by spirits in a bathhouse or having to experience your pet getting into a brutal accident might seem daunting to most audiences, some kids might find particular scenes (Spoilers: In “Spirited Away,” when the male lead turns into a dragon, he is attacked while in “Frankenweenie,” a supporting character’s cat turns into a bat which is ultimately killed) in both movies rather distressing.
In When Scaring Children Is A Good Thing: Why Kid-Friendly Horror Matters written by Meredith Borders on Sept. 20, 2018 for Slashfilm, kid horror is one of the subgenres of cinema that is the least likely to succeed at the box office, and a majority of kid-friendly horror films are also rarely distinguished by critics or earn the respect of MPAA-obsessed fans.
In the same article, while kid horror films are made with the intention of scaring them, the concept of fear is an educational lesson, considering that kids are observant while also being anxious at the same time. So maybe watching a horror movie with them will help conquer that fear.
Age isn’t what should be considered in kids, but also their level of development, as well as whether they become frightened easily being a big factor into showing them horror movies.
At What Age Should Kids Watch Horror Movies? written by Lindsay Miragalia on Oct. 28, 2020 for Moms explains a strategy for parents to help their kids in the event that they’re watching a horror movie with them, such as comforting them when they get scared while also considering when the time is right and the type of film you show to them.
Even when parents take the right precautions, there are some kids that may end up having nightmares after watching them. This is completely normal.
The objective isn’t to scare kids by making them watch horror movies—It’s to teach them that it’s okay to be scared. What is more important is helping conquer that fear in a proactive manner.