We talk a lot on our podcast about how we believe children’s media diet ought to include some difficult, challenging, and scary material from time to time. Some of our fondest childhood memories come from horror films we watched with our parents beside us, covering our eyes during the naughty bits. Hopefully this guide can serve as a vague starting point for scratching that itch for you and your family.
Ok, so when we say “family-friendly” horror, our judgment is more than a little liberal. This is horror, after all. Horror films are, by definition, scary and disturbing, a shock to our sensibilities.
So that means all the movies on this list are scary to varying degrees for various reasons. Many of them contain a bit of blood and/or gore and some degree of on-screen violence, though not nearly as explicit as the majority of films we cover on this podcast.
There may be sexual jokes or innuendo that may or may not fly over your youngest moppet’s head. Some even contain a touch of female nudity – a nipple or a boob or two, if that offends your sensibilities terribly.
But the films on this list are ones that we, in our own non-expert opinion, believe are more palatable for a mixed setting of adults and kids of varying ages and maturity. Usually, it means there is something about it that is either explicitly tailored towards kids or would appeal to kids of certain age groups, while still having enough “edge” and entertainment value for adults to enjoy.
And a few are on this list, not because they are geared towards kids at all, but simply because they contain none of what we consider “strong visuals” like blood or gore or brutal violence or sex, so that a young child walking in the room wouldn’t be surprised by any shocking or offensive visuals. But that doesn’t mean the story is not scary or disturbing in some way, and you still might not want your toddler to watch it with you from beginning to end.
So if you’re going to use this as a guide for what you can watch with your family, we strongly suggest: Do your own research first before firing it up in your living room. Your own judgment of what constitutes “family-friendly horror” will naturally be very intimate and subjective, depending largely on your family values, the composition of your family and your triggers.
Each film’s IMDB page has a guide for parents that talks in more specific detail about the film’s individual scenes and content, broken down by sex, nudity, violence, blood/gore, mature themes, etc. Check it out first if you are unsure.
But always remember: These are still, first and foremost, horror films. Don’t blame us if you disagree with anything on this list. You are in charge of your family’s viewing material, not us.