Growing up, I came across quite a few mind-blowing movies that influenced my young mind. But there were also some movies that I could have watched at an older age, that may have scarred me into believing the world might be a bad place.
Here are 10 movies that I loved although they scared me –
The first time I watched Coraline, I remember thinking how weird all the characters were. Coraline is scary for all the right reasons – it’s very dark and troubling, not for the images but for the story it conveys. With the most nightmarish animation, Coraline creeped me out with all the subtle, yet dark, themes of neglectful parents and the manipulative power of those who want to hurt us. Imagine your mother pestering you to sew buttons into your eyes!
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Although I hardly understand Spanish, Pan’s Labyrinth (with subtitles) is extremely scary. I cannot imagine how someone looked at the script and thought it was appropriate for children, even under adult supervision. The Pale Man scene had to be the most disturbing image for a young me, and I’m pretty that part of the movie made my heart race the most. And that’s besides all the brutally violent scenes in the film that’s interspersed with the historical reality of war. I don’t think I would dare watch it even now.
The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)
This movie was fascinatingly fantastical but also scary. Alone in a creepy mansion, surrounded by invisible but dangerous creatures, The Spiderwick Chronicles was somehow a fan-favourite and always played on TV almost every year without fail. I mean, who doesn’t love a bloodthirsty evil monster who wants to get rid of all the good creatures in this magical world – along with humankind – only to be defeated by a group of siblings?
Monster House (2006)
There’s nothing scarier than that large, battered house at the end of the street that seems to be haunted, owned by that old man who scares away children. What makes it worse is when this house comes to life and attacks you. Of course, none of these movies feels complete without the trope of the adults who disbelieve anything that these kids seem to experience. The last half hour of the film was the scariest for me, with the house practically uprooting itself and chasing the kids.
Spirited Away (2001)
Though I won’t classify as one of those traditionally ‘scary’ movies, it is, nevertheless, quite spooky and disturbing. Feeling abandoned and lost – in the absence of her parents who’ve been tricked into transforming into pigs – the young Chihiro’s world slowly collapses around her as she’s forced into a world (and lifestyle) that she’s unfamiliar with. No child ever wants to go through the experience of meeting spirits and somewhat-evil creatures, and have their identity stolen till they don’t even remember themselves. That giant baby was definitely the scariest thing in the movie for me.
Ok, so the gremlins were cute (the squeaky “Bright light! Bright light!” is forever etched into my brain). Still, nothing prepared me for the army of mischievous vile monsters that sprung out of the original one. The gruesome ways these creatures went on a murderous rampage on the whole town and their consequent deaths – it’s definitely too dark for kids.
The Sixth Sense (1999)
This is one movie that I watched with my friends. Thinking that the film was a crime-thriller, we did not expect to see ghosts and several violent deaths. While I do not find the movie that scary now, I remember it filling me with a sense of dread of what was to come. Our group definitely did not predict the twist towards the climax of the film.
The Omen (2006)
I have absolutely no idea how I was even allowed to watch ‘The Omen’ at such a young age. Even though I watched most of the film through gaps between my fingers, I still vividly remember the scene where the young ‘Anti-Christ’ causes his mother to fall over the railing. The movie gave me nightmares for several nights, and I was even reluctant to look at the cover of the CD.
Another movie that I probably should not have been allowed to see as a kid, Psycho is spooky for all the disturbing reveals, especially regarding the mother. But, nothing will be as scary as the scene in the bathroom or when ‘Mother’ is finally discovered – an unnerving episode. Taking the idea of “A boy’s best friend is his mother” a lot further, the climax stabs you (no pun intended) when you discover the truth.
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
We were made to watch this film at school for an English class, and the magic of the movie was so thrilling that I had to go back home to watch it again. Count Olaf gave me the shivers each time. Although the visuals weren’t that scary, the plotline definitely is – it’s dark and gloomy despite being a kid’s movie. When I did finally meet Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler), I made sure to tell him how twisted the books (and the movie) were.