It’s spooky season and that means everyone is looking for some horror to get them into the reason for the season. While we have more horror offerings than ever before across so many streaming platforms, there are a lot to watch. But what do you watch when you have kids? We’ve pulled together a list of all-ages horror films to watch with your kids or if you’re just not looking for something to make sure you can’t sleep at night. All-ages horror is a wonderful thing, and the spooky season is the perfect time to share give the young ones in your life a gateway into a genre filled with wonder, mystery, and topics that can be difficult to talk about otherwise.
“When Alex (Winslow Fegley), a boy obsessed with scary stories, is trapped by an evil witch (Krysten Ritter) in her magical apartment, and must tell a scary story every night to stay alive, he teams up with another prisoner, Yasmin (Lidya Jewett), to find a way to escape.”
Nightbooks is a stellar and whimsical doorway to the power of horror. It’s a stellar film with a cast that rocks it, and Ritter’s performance as Natacha is one for the on-screen witch record books. If you love horror, have kids who love horror, or just want something great to put on, Nightbooks is for you.
“An adventurous 11-year-old girl finds another world that is a strangely idealized version of her frustrating home, but it has sinister secrets. When Coraline moves to an old house, she feels bored and neglected by her parents. She finds a hidden door with a bricked up passage..”
I am a 30-year-old woman and to this day, the button eyes scare me. That said, despite living deeply in the uncanny valley, Coraline is accessible to people of all ages. Thanks to themes about family and belonging, there is a lot to love and be creeped out by.
“Young Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee) has the ability to speak with the dead — and he often prefers their company to that of the living. Norman receives word from his strange Uncle Prenderghast (John Goodman) that a centuries-old witch’s curse on their town is real and about to come true — and that only Norman can stop it. When zombies rise from their graves, Norman must summon all his courage and compassion and push his paranormal abilities to the limit to save his fellow townspeople.”
With amazing animation, Paranorman is a perfect example of all-ages horror. With themes that adults can catch, and a great message about embracing what makes you different, this is is always one of the first films I recommend for people with kids. Additionally, it has a unique take on classic horror tropes that really stick.
“A suburban home has a secret portal, which would perhaps be best left undiscovered. The house is the new abode of teen Dane Thompson and his family, and it’s not long before the kids have thoroughly explored their new residence.”
Nothing helps you bond with your brother more than discovering a creepy hole in your new house that may or may not kill you. From icon Joe Dante, this take sibling relationships and the unknown offers a great story with that classic Dante aesthetic.
The Witches (1990)
“While staying at a hotel in England with his grandmother, Helga (Mai Zetterling), young Luke (Jasen Fisher) inadvertently spies on a convention of witches. The Grand High Witch (Anjelica Huston) reveals a plan to turn all children into mice through a magical formula. When they find that Luke has overheard, the witches test the formula on him. Now, with the help of Helga and the hotel manager, Mr. Stringer (Rowan Atkinson), Luke the mouse must fight back against the witches.”
To be completely honest, I almost didn’t include this take on Roald Dahl’s The Witches because it really messed me up as a kid. That said, it’s a classic that should be watched widely. A wonder of practical effects and with phenomenal performances, it’s foundational to any young horror lover.
“Upset about moving from the big city to a small town, young Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) finds a silver lining when he meets his beautiful neighbor Hannah (Odeya Rush). The teen is surprised to learn that Hannah’s mysterious father is R.L. Stine (Jack Black), the famous author of the best-selling “Goosebumps” series. When Zach accidentally unleashes the monsters from the fantastic tales, it’s up to Stine, his daughter and Cooper to return the beasts to the books where they belong.”
The Goosebumps television series and books were key to nurturing my love of horror. Spanning the weird to truly terrifying (I still hate ventriloquist dummies), 2015’s Goosebumps manages to capture the heart of the horror while aging down some elements to ensure that younger audiences feel welcome in the story. while the original series was more geared toward teens, this film and its sequel work extremely well for kids with a blend of fantasy and horror that works.
“Ten-year-old Lewis goes to live with his oddball uncle in a creaky old house that contains a mysterious `tick tock’ noise. He soon learns that Uncle Jonathan and his feisty neighbor, Mrs. Zimmerman, are powerful practitioners of the magic arts. When Lewis accidentally awakens the dead, the town’s sleepy facade suddenly springs to life, revealing a secret and dangerous world of witches, warlocks, and deadly curses.”
If you told me that Eli Roth was going to make a wholesome kids’ fantasy-horror film about found family and resiliency that actually lands, I would have laughed. But that’s exactly why you have The House With A Clock In Its Walls. It’s not perfect, but the stellar performances from Jack Black and Cate Blanchett, mixed with its familial theme make it a great film to watch with your littles.
At the end of the day, horror is a genre that belongs to everyone. And more importantly, it can offer a window for young ones to explore themes like death and loss in a safe space. As a medium, all-ages horror is vital and this Halloween, I hope you get to explore the genre with the kids in your life.
Synopses for 7 All-Ages Horror Movies to Watch were used directly from their respective product pages.