The general consensus is that movies made for kids are all rainbows and sunshine and surely family friendly. But a lot of these films have a dark undertone that can be intense and anxiety-inducing. If a child experiences these movies without proper supervision, they may internalize the horror that they see and that can also give them childhood trauma.
If watching scary movies is your thing, check out these films. The ones you’ve watched as a kid will surely leave you shocked, and you’ll be left wondering how these films were ever considered to be kid movies!
Kid Movies That Will Leave You Terrified:
1. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
About Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory:
The 1971 adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is not as kid friendly as you’d think. Gene Wilder plays Willy Wonka wonderfully, with a kind of frantic and manic energy. But one must wonder what happens to those kids who get sucked into pipes or dropped down to garbage chutes – and the adults are uncharacteristically nonchalant about it!
2. The Harry Potter Series
About The Harry Potter Series:
Both adults and kids are fans of this beloved series, but Harry Potter has a lot of dark themes from the get-go. Our protagonist, Harry, has lost his parents when he was just a baby and is subjected to child abuse in his aunt’s house.
A couple of movies down the line, we have “fun” creatures like dementors who feed on happiness and suck the soul of humans – and they are the essentially the guards of Azkaban! This movie series might be a sensation all around the world, but there are enough scenes that’ll give kids nightmares and give them childhood trauma.
3. Dark Crystal
About Dark Crystal:
We associate Jim Hensen with heartwarming puppet films, but Dark Crystal is anything but that. We have doomed planets and an alien species known as Skeksis – a weird and terrifying blend of lizards and birds.
What’s worse is that they bear a resemblance to Muppet Show’s Gonzo, but way more sinister. There are also giant beetles whose chatter will give you goosebumps.
4. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
About Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
The only reason this film is on this list is because of Judge Doom. The scene where he screams in pain as a steamroller runs over him is very realistic. He also murders an anthropomorphic shoe, which can be horrifying for kids.
5. The Never-ending Story
About The Never-ending Story:
This film kills a horse, and you’d think that the death would be quick and painless as the primary audience of this movie is kids, but that’s where you’d be wrong! The horse, Atrax, slowly submerges into the Swamp of Sadness. The cherry on top is the black void known as ‘Nothing’, where, if anything enters becomes exactly that.
Coraline might be one of the most scary movies to exist and should not be watched without parental control. Child neglect is a consistent theme in this movie, which is obviously disturbing for kids and that’ll give them some childhood trauma.
Still, then we have Coraline’s parents in the alternate dimension, who are kind of dolls, trying to kidnap her and substitute her eyes for buttons (yes…I know). Guess how Coraline has to save herself? By searching for the eyes of her ghost friends.
Did you know? Dakota Fanning has voiced Coraline.
7. Return to Oz
About Return to Oz:
Return to Oz is the sequel to our classic tale, The Wizard of Oz, but with a dark turn. If you want to gauge how horrifying this movie can be, there is a scene where Dorothy gets stuck in a dark, eerie room teeming with severed heads, complete with a headless corpse, which chases her.
8. Alice in Wonderland
About Alice in Wonderland:
You are surely wondering why this whimsical fairy tale is on this list – and it is because of Tim Burton’s 2010 adaptation! Animal cruelty, war, and mental illness are some of the themes in this film. Not to mention, there are some scenes that will definitely make children scared.
I’m talking about these scenes – one where Alice crosses a stream with the help of steppingstones, which are actually severed heads, yes, you read that right), or where Alice gets a knife stabbed in her foot, or the threatened execution! This film is undoubtedly scary, no matter that it is a fairy tale adaptation.
Bambi features the death of a mother, and apparently, since losing a parent isn’t traumatic enough, we also see how she is killed – Bambi’s mother is cornered and killed by hunters with guns. Even though the film is about survival, such portrayals can trouble a young child.
10. The Lion King
About The Lion King:
These films, whose target viewers are kids, sure incorporate a lot of death. The Lion King (1994) is no exception. While the mother gets killed in Bambi, in this film, it is the father. Mufasa’s brother, Scar, in his greed to be the king, betrays Mufasa and lets him get trampled by the herd of wildebeest.
The scene where Simba cradles Mufasa’s paw is haunting, to say the least. For a film that is about talking lions, The Lion King is surely bleak. This movie is filled with emotions that can give your kid childhood traumas.
11. The Fox and the Hound
About The Fox and the Hound:
There is nothing outrightly sinister about this film, unlike the others mentioned in this list. On the surface, The Fox and the Hound look like a kid-friendly movie about an unlikely friendship. A baby fox, Todd, strikes up a friendship with Copper, a hound dog, only to realize later that they are supposed to be mortal enemies.
As it is a children’s film, one expects that everything will be ultimately fine at the end – but this is not the case. Though they move beyond the roles that are assigned to them, they know that their friendship cannot continue. The story starkly resembles what most adult friendships look like.
Adventures of Tintin, Pinocchio (1940), Arthur and the Invisibles, Watcher in the Woods, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Dumbo and Grease are worth mentioning – check them out if you’ve gone through our list.
Though not a movie, this list won’t be complete if Netflix’s Stranger Things isn’t mentioned – a series where kids are kidnapped from their families and have experiments done on them, not to mention the very scary monsters called ‘Demigorgons’. Hence, no child should be allowed to watch Stranger Things.
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