13 horror films that won't scar your tweens for life

Photo: Everett Images
Photo: Everett Images 

As a Certified Wimp™, there are only a few scary movies that I can really handle watching to ensure I don't spend the next week having nightmares over a film's plot.

However, I was forced to watch tons of horror movies as a kid at sleepovers and birthday parties, because it's apparently some kind of rite of passage as a tween and teen to sit through scary movies with friends and not completely freak out (which I never once succeeded at, for the record).

Whether you're a horror film buff or not, you may have a budding scary movie-lover on your hands (or just a kid who wants to watch all of the movies in various Halloween movie marathons on TV without really knowing what they're getting into).

To ease your 9- to 13-year-olds into scary movies, there are a handful of classics and a few newer horror films that have just the right amount of fright — there's nothing too terrifying, but nothing too childish on this list.

You know your kid best, so before watching some of these films you may have to consider what your child can handle, despite the age each film is considered appropriate for.

Read ahead for 13 scary movies that are perfect to pop on at your tween's next sleepover, during a Halloween party, or on your next family movie night.

1. The Witches

Rating: PG

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Age of kids that can handle it: 8+

Why it's scary: This movie is based on Roald Dahl's classic novel for kids, but man, is it creepy. The main character, Luke, and his mice encounter a bunch of scary witches at a convention of sorts, and the kids in it find themselves in perilous situations on more than one occasion.


2. Coraline

Rating: PG

Age of kids that can handle it: 9+

Why it's scary: This fantasy flick will definitely scare littler kids. Coraline is trapped in a scary and dangerous place where people have frightening buttons for eyes, and the movie is dark and creepy in general. It's a safer bet for your tween to watch this one.


3. The Addams Family

Rating: PG-13

Age of kids that can handle it: 10+

Why it's scary: This movie is a fun one based on the classic 1960s sitcom, but it is still a bit scary for younger children. A ton of different weapons and torture devices appear throughout the film (though no one gets hurt) and even though the characters are hilarious and likable, their personalities are a little disturbing, so make sure your child will be able to find the humour in this film before letting them watch.

4. ParaNorman

Rating: PG

Age of kids that can handle it: 10+

Why it's scary: Full of animated stop-motion monsters, zombies, ghosts, witches, and corpses, this movie includes a bunch of creepy images, chases, shadowy figures, and jumpy scenes.

5. Corpse Bride

Rating: PG

Age of kids that can handle it: 10+

Why it's scary: In typical Tim Burton fashion, even the most lovable characters in this movie are creepy. The bride is an actual corpse, the adorable puppy is actually a skeleton, and there are a ton of other types of dead people throughout the movie — but it's all in good fun if you think your little one can handle it.

6. The Haunted Mansion

Rating: PG

Age of kids that can handle it: 10+

Why it's scary: The kids in this movie get chased several times by ghosts, demons, and skeletons, and they're also locked in a chest at one point, which can be scary for younger children. The movie revolves around a creepy mansion and most of it takes place in the dark.

7. Monster House

Rating: PG

Age of kids that can handle it: 10+

Why it's scary: Although this one's a cartoon, it's still totally creepy. The old man who lives across the street is seriously terrifying, and the "monster" house itself is nightmarish — it has sharp teeth and everything! (The kids are the picture of exactly who you don't want your own children to turn into — they break and enter, they approach a ton of unsafe situations with reckless abandon, they light sticks of dynamite, and they steal tons of cough medicine to "sedate" the house.)

8. Beetlejuice

Rating: PG-13

Age of kids that can handle it: 10+

Why it's scary: Most of this film takes place in the dark and inside either a creepy old house or a graveyard; however, the "scary" parts are actually pretty manageable acts of physical comedy with a horror twist (think the Maitlands sporting their "masks" with the long nose and giant mouth).

9. Jaws

Rating: PG

Age of kids that can handle it: 11+

Why it's scary: For being a horror movie, Jaws truly isn't the scariest, but its realistic plot is enough to give anyone nightmares. There are a few scarier scenes throughout, unsurprisingly including all the bloody shark attacks.

10. Ghostbusters

Rating: PG

Age of kids that can handle it: 11+

Why it's scary: Aside from it being a generally spooky movie, there are a few scarier elements. Some of the skeletal ghosts in the film are a bit frightening and sport eerie grins, the Terror Dogs with glowing eyes aren't the friendliest of pooches, and the library ghost scene is super jumpy.

11. Gremlins

Rating: PG

Age of kids that can handle it: 11+

Why it's scary: Although the gremlins themselves are pretty gross looking, the poor things get chopped up by knives, blended in the blender, and microwaved — but they are also pretty brutal to the humans, so it's a trade-off, I suppose? And a side note: this movie will ruin Christmas for your family if your little one still believes in Saint Nick.


12. Edward Scissorhands

Rating: PG-13

Age of kids that can handle it: 11+

Why it's scary: OK, so a man with long scissors for fingers is off-the-bat frightening, but this movie isn't actually as scary as it seems at first glance. Edward does kill one man who's attacking him with his scissors, which leads to a fatal fall out a window, but for the most part, this movie is more sad than scary.

13. The Monster Squad

Rating: PG-13

Age of kids that can handle it: 12+

Why it's scary: This movie definitely has a more Scooby-Doo feel to it, but for some teens the cartoonish violence can be a lot (think vampires stabbed in the heart, a werewolf getting blown apart multiple times, and a guy's head getting crushed).

This story originally appeared on POPSUGAR Australia, read it here.