Scary (But Not-Too-Scary) Movies For Teens and Tweens

Overlooked Horror Flicks To Watch Alone In the Dark (Or With Friends)

Lists of the "Top 100 Horror Movies" or "Scariest Movies Ever Made" are plentiful, but the problem with these lists is that everyone has already seen them. The really good horror movies are actually quite easy to find as the "edited versions" appear on our TV screens on a regular basis. The movies I want to spotlight are the great horror films (just a rung below) that go unnoticed by the more casual fans of horror. Legendary horror films such as The Exorcist, Poltergeist, The Shining, and Night of the Living Dead will continue to be watchable over and over again for a very long time. They should be, and likely are, in most people's horror movie collection. The movies that should be on your radar are the good films that are just waiting to be found that have been overlooked or taken for granted.

Screen grab from Audition (1999).

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Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)

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Directors John Landis ( "An American Werewolf in London"), Joe Dante, George Miller ( "The Witches of Eastwick," the Mad Max movies) and Spielberg adapt the classic TV show for the big screen with four short stories—two of them horror-themed—that actually teach lessons about tolerance and selflessness. Kids with short attention spans won't have to stick with the stories for very long and should find the quick-moving supernatural tales involving. None of the scares is especially intense, and one of the two horror tales is told in a joking, cartoonish fashion.

Rating: PG (Parental Guide)

Another Batch of Overlooked Horror Movies

  • A Dark Song (2016): If you've ever wanted to go behind the scenes of what it takes to call forth angels and demons, this is the film you need to watch. Hint… you can't do it fast.
  • The Babysitter (2017): Ever wish you had a smoking hot (and very cool) babysitter? What if that babysitter was a Devil worshiper and wanted you dead? Still interested? You can find this above average horror-comedy on Netflix. There's also a sequel that was made in 2020 which is, while not perfect, worth watching.
  • Midnight Meat Train (2008): A very solid adaptation from one of Clive Barker’s short stories. It’s slowly gaining a cult following.
  • Black Sunday (1960): A great vintage Italian horror movie that is beautiful and violent as it is as dark and moody.
  • Inside (2007): A French home invasion horror film where a pregnant woman must defend her life from someone who wants her unborn child. One of the most intense foreign horror movies I've seen in a while.
  • I Spit On Your Grave (1978): I’ve only watched this film once, and it was almost impossible for me to do so. It amazes me that so many women like to watch it.
  • Return of the Killer Tomatoes! (1988): I never knew this one existed until a few years ago. As with the first, best to watch with a group of friends.
  • Better Watch Out (2016): A really solid Christmas Babysitter horror flick with a twist that you won’t see coming. Although it would have worked better with a bit more humor in it; this is a good watch.
  • Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006): The goal of appeasing gorehounds around the world was met when this fun train wreck of a flick was made. Do you expect anything less from a movie directed by Troma's Lloyd Kaufman?
  • 1408 (2007): There’s always a skeptic in horror movies, and we love it when they're proven wrong and embrace the horrifying reality of the situation

The Rocky Horror Picture Show(1975)

Most people’s first thoughts when they find themselves stranded on the side of the road would be to not venture two or so miles down the road to a nearby creepy mansion. Goody-two-shoes married couple Brad (Barry Bostwick), and Janet (Susan Sarandon) think differently, leading them to Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s (Tim Curry) humble adobe where a night beyond their imagination exists. Get ready to sing along…like a lot.

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The Others (2001)

© Dimension

This haunted house tale has a mind-bending plot—featuring a World War II-era British family dealing with spooky events in their mansion—that might get a bit confusing for children, but older kids will find its ending twist engrossing. The scares are genuine but not overly extreme or explicit, taking full advantage of the classic, creepy haunted mansion setting.

Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guide)

Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

Being a plant mom or dad to some is a gift. To others, it’s a nightmare. In this case: it’s the latter, especially when you’re housing a giant plant whose diet consists of only human flesh. How quirky is that? (Also, there’s currently a remake of this musical classic in the works set to star Chris Evans and Taron Egerton, so we’re stoked.)

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7. Signs (2002)

Buena Vista Pictures What it is: A sci-fi horror film about an alien attack. Why it’s not too scary: “It’s got a few good, mild jump scares, and it’s not gory or graphic, but it’s creepy and unnerving. It’s a good starter horror movie for people who may not like the genre or haven’t seen many, but it does still make me jump when I rewatch it.” —strangerthanitseems

19. Detention (2011)

Samuel Goldwyn Films What it is: A black-comedy slasher film that somehow combines The Breakfast Club, Back to the Future, and Scream into one movie. Why it’s not too scary: “It is wildly fun, goes a mile a minute, and is definitely more comedy than horror.” —surfingrockets

6. Rosemary’s Baby

Practical Magic $3.99+

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I don’t want to give away too much away about the plot , as you’ll want to go into this movie without context. It definitely makes for a better experience. I’ll just say I bought a couple of cute shift dresses inspired by Mia Farrow after watching the film.

9. The Sixth Sense

The Sixth Sense $3.99+

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Okay, this movie is *definitely* on the scary side, but nothing you can’t handle. Just a few jump scares and a general feeling of unease throughout the film until you get to the twisty ending—FYI, if you already know the spoiler, it’s still a great watch .

Scary But Not-Too-Scary Horror Movies on Netflix

Streaming is the name of the game these days! And while we’re waiting to stream Disney+, we’re still in love deep with our Netflix.

Here’s a shortlist of scary but not too scary horror movies on Netflix your teens will love.

  • Stranger Things
  • Nightbooks
  • In the Tall Grass (TV-MA)
  • Curious Creations of Christine McConnell
  • Goosebumps
  • Creeped Out
  • House of the Witch

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