17 children’s films that might just scare the pants off your kids

We asked you which surprising movies your kids found frightening - here's what we found out...

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You just can’t tell what your little one’s going to find scary until they see it.

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Of course, every child is different, and some kids will totally LOVE these films we’ve mentioned below – but it’s interesting to think about what scares some and what doesn’t, isn’t it?

Some of these suggestions are a bit obvious, but there are some we’d never have guessed were a bit spooky for some youngsters.

Be warned… you may run out of films to watch 😂

1. Beauty and the Beast

The live action version of this Disney classic has been much anticipated – but you might want to have a think about letting really little ones watch it.

Some mums found the cinema experience was a bit overwhelming for younger children – especially in 3D as the Beast is quite scary at the beginning.

It might be worth mentioning that he does become very sweet and lovely at the end – and some mums suggested likening the snowy scene at the beginning (where Beauty’s Dad journeys to the Beast’s castle) to the Frozen scenes with Sven and Kristoff: as the wolves in that part can be pretty ferocious.

2. Coraline (PG)

OK, so it is a spooky film but it does have a PG certificate. The BBFC states that “A PG film should not disturb a child aged around 8 or older.” But Coraline comes top of the list for good reasons: Those button eyes. People’s mouths are sewn shut. And there’s a very, very scary ‘Other Mum’.

We can imagine why kids would be scared of this particular scene – where 11-year-old Coraline’s ‘other mother’ turns around to reveal she has buttons for eyes. And Coraline’s real parents end up kidnapped.

Not all parents agreed with the PG classification for Coraline and the BBFC received a number of complaints from parents saying that their children had been scared by the film – and some had been forced to leave the cinema. 

Loads of you agreed that Coraline was definitely one for grown-up children. As one MFMer said: “My nephew has a thing about the buttons!!!”

3. Jumanji (PG)

The 1996 classic might not be Coraline-levels of scary, but the idea of a magical board game coming to life can be quite frightening for some younger children.

The child characters in the film have also lost their parents, which can also be a tricky concept to grasp for some very small kids.

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4. Inside Out (U)

This is one of the loveliest Disney/Pixar films ever made and is certainly a tearjerker for mum and dad – but the theme of sadness and loss (vs happiness) could be a bit complex to digest for some littler ones.

And are we the only ones still upset by what happened to Bing Bong?! 😢

5. The Black Cauldron (PG)

One of the MFM team vividly remembers being afraid of the big cauldron as a child – even though it’s otherwise a fairly harmless animated flick from the ‘80s.

6. Kung Fu Panda 2 (PG)

One of our MFM mums said her 2-year-old found the start of Kung Fu Panda 2 scary.

7. Hocus Pocus (PG)

This 1993 flick starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Bette Midler as a coven of evil witches is a Halloween must-watch for grown-ups, but for children?

Hocus Pocus is one of my faves,” said one MFM mum. “Scary for my 5-year-old but my 2-year-old loved it.”

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8. Monster House (PG)

It’s perhaps not surprising that this animated movie about a Monster House isn’t one for easily-scared youngsters. The house is literally a monster. And where are you sat while watching it? In the house 😐

9. Anastasia (U)

One of our FB mums said she had nightmares of the 1997 Disney cartoon Anastasia as a youngster – and we can totally understand why.

Not only is there the wizard Rasputin (who’s body comes apart) to contend with, but our heroine Anastasia’s always in peril as a result.

10. Pinocchio

The film Pinocchio’s not scary, exactly, but it is a bit unsettling at times. Pinocchio nearly drowns at one point and at another is trapped in a cage.

There’s also ‘Pleasure Island’ where ‘bad boys’ who don’t know right from wrong, are transformed into donkeys.

An MFM writer vaguely remembers being a bit freaked out by Jiminy Cricket and the fact Pinocchio is a ‘live’ puppet as a youngster, too.

11. The Good Dinosaur (PG)

Several mums told us that their kids – all around age 4 – found The Good Dinosaur to be a bit scary.

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12. Corpse Bride (PG)

Another one of Tim Burton’s stop-motion masterpieces, but just like Coraline, probs best for older kids.

13. The Witches (PG)

Speaking of witches, the movie version of Roald Dahl’s famous book quite obviously features quite a few of them. The witches in themselves – not so scary – but when they’re decked out in hideous, alien-like prosthetic masks?

We’re not surprised some of our FB mums flagged this one as a potential scarer.

14. Paddington (PG)

One of team MFM’s 5-year-old daughters found the latest Paddington film pretty scary – she even had to leave the cinema.

Maybe it was that the marmalade-loving bear was suddenly no longer a cartoon… and was CGI amongst the real world?

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15. The Wizard of Oz (U)

The weird and wonderful world of Oz is classic for a reason – but we reckon the crazy colours and characters could be a bit overwhelming for some children.

But the main thing here is: how scary is the Wicked Witch? Even we’re a bit afraid of her…

16. Toy Story (PG)

The Toy Story franchise isn’t really scary – it’s quite an uplifting tale about toys and the message is basically how much your toys love you, and how you should enjoy them before you outgrow them.

But as one MFM mum noted, Sid – the nasty child who likes to hurt his toys – can come across as pretty terrifying if you’re tiny.

“Sid from toy story and his demon toy collection – my two year old loves the film, but leaves the room for that bit!”

17. ParaNorman (PG)

Like Monster House, the title ParaNorman suggests some spooky goings on. It’s about a little boy who can see and communicate with ghosts – and the ghosts are all over his town.

Some of them are very friendly… but some certainly aren’t. There’s also a pretty scary man in the film, too, who bothers Norman.

It’s another one best for older kids – or little ones who aren’t easily frightened.

Anything we should add?

Which films scare your little one? Are any of these a huge surprise? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter

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