Guest Blogger: Why do we love horror “How soon is too soon for a child to see a horror movie?” by Andrew Lisa

How Soon Is Too Soon for a Child to See a Horror Movie?

How Soon Is Too Soon for a Child to See a Horror Movie?

In the sixth installment of the legendary Friday the 13th franchise, the lone survivor from the previous episode digs up the corpse of masked killer Jason Vorhees to make sure he’s really dead. Upon seeing his body, he becomes so enraged at what the monster did to his friend that he takes a loose rod from the cemetery gate and stabs his carcass over and over and leaves the stake inside his chest.

At that moment, a brewing storm creates lightning, which conveniently strikes the iron rod from the gate, reanimating Jason’s corpse. He rises from the grave and goes on his next reign of terror, including one murder in which he picks up a girl in a sleeping bag by the feet and smashes her so hard into a tree that she horseshoes around it backward.

You’re never too old for awesomeness like this. But can you be too young? Conventional wisdom says probably. Follow this guide for insight onto this touchy subject.

Watching scary movies with the kids can be an awesome bonding experience – as long as you know they can handle it.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

The group responsible for rating movies, the Motion Picture Association of America, would like you to believe that a guide can tell you exactly how old a child needs to be to see a certain movie.

Prior to 1984, movies were either for kids or for grownups. But two things happened that year, both of which were movies that involved Steven Spielberg: Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. These two movies, which were marketed to kids by the guy who made E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, had thousands of children across the country sleeping in their parents’ bed at night due to gory, graphic scenes.

Collective soccer mom outrage was followed by the the PG-13 category. Now parents had an actual category with an actual age. No more thinking needed, right? Wishful thinking. Thirteen-year-olds are different, and so are movies.

Know Your Kid

Most horror movies are rated R. R-rated movies are not recommended for children under 17. But how childish is your 16-year-old? In some states, 16-year-olds can drive a car and consent to sex and even marriage. Some 16-year-olds take care of their siblings and work an after-school job. Others sneak cigarettes, spray paint cats, and blow up mailboxes.

The MPAA is a group that does its best to assign general categories to movies without being totally arbitrary. They aren’t your kid’s parent. You are. It’s up to you to know your kid, how mature he or she is, how based in reality and grounded he or she is. Cuddling up with your 11-year-old for a scary movie they’re barely ready for might be the coolest thing you could do. Depending on the kid, it could also be the most irresponsible.

Horror Movies Are Often Smutty

Horror movies are often littered with graphic sexual content. It comes with the turf. In fact, some of the greatest kills in any horror movies are the ones that happen to the couple who couldn’t keep their hands off each other and got caught naked and, well, preoccupied by a monster who doubles as a voyeur.

Is graphic sex “worse” than graphic violence? That’s obviously up to you to decide, but consider this: Violence in horror movies is often cartoonish, meaning unrealistic and sensational. Two naked grownups having sex is just that – and never anything else. Which leads us to the next subject.

Is the Violence Cartoonish or Real?

The violent scenes in many horror movies are so over the top that even a kid – frightened as they may be at that moment – can tell it isn’t real or possible. In Child’s Play, an animated doll uses a voodoo doll to break apart a man’s bones until he dies. Disturbing? Yes. But also silly.

On the other hand, Hostel features scenes of torture so believable you have to remind yourself that these aren’t real people suffering at the hands of diabolical sadists.

Only you can decide if your kid is ready for a horror movie.

It would be nice if there were a one-size-fits-all formula for letting kids watch movies with adult content. There isn’t. There never is with parenting. Know your kid, know the movie, and if you decide to be the cool parent and bend the rules, make sure they know what they’re getting into, that it is just a movie, and that they can bail out any time without feeling ashamed.

Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about parenting and reviews merchandise such as car seat boosters.

Be the first to comment on "Guest Blogger: Why do we love horror “How soon is too soon for a child to see a horror movie?” by Andrew Lisa"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.