Picture from Family Fright Night: Part 2

Family Fright Night: Part 2

If you’re trying to squeeze some family time in amongst your teen’s Halloween social activities, you might want to try a scary movie night. We’ve selected some family-friendly films designed to keep you on the edge of your seats – without too much negative content. Most aren’t Halloween-themed, but they will all deliver a whole lot of shivery chills.

Mr. Harrigan’s Phone (PG-13, Grade: B-) is the story of Craig, a teen who has a part-time job reading books to an elderly man. The two bond and Craig eventually persuades the technophobe to use a cell phone. When Mr. Harrigan dies, Craig slips the phone into the casket as a farewell token…then he starts getting texts from the number. Subtly creepy and highly atmospheric this film eschews gore for old-fashioned clever writing and good acting.

It’s a post-apocalyptic world and aliens hunt humans using their ultra-sensitive hearing. A Quiet Place(PG-13: B+) follows a family of five as they try to elude the monsters who would destroy them. There are a few scenes of bloody corpses but most of this movie’s unrelenting tension comes from the family’s need to remain silent at all costs. In A Quiet Place Part II (PG-13, Grade: B+) the Abbott family leave their farmhouse in search of help. Jump scares, alien attacks, and more non-stop tension keep this sequel as exciting and terrifying as the first film.

Just because it’s animated, doesn’t mean it’s childish. Spirited Away (PG, Grade: B-) is a Japanese anime film about a girl named Chihiro. When her family visit a deserted amusement park, Chihiro’s parents are turned into pigs and the young girl must figure out a way to save them. The most notable thing about this movie is its over-the-top weirdness – there are fantastical scenes, bizarre creatures, and strange transformations. If you want to feel unsettled and uneasy, this imaginative production is sure to deliver.

“I see dead people.” It’s an iconic line and it comes from The Sixth Sense (PG-13, Grade: B-). The movie tells the story of a child who sees dead people and the psychologist who tries to assist him. With stomach-churning images of those who died violently and the vicarious experience of the child’s fear, this isn’t a movie that will have you nodding off.

There are a lot more dead people in Wendell and Wild (PG-13, Grade: C+) and they come to life thanks to the titular demons, brought out of the underworld by a girl named Kat. She is a Hell Maiden – who is struggling with some serious issues of anger and unresolved grief. This stop-motion animation production has some very dark moments and quite a lot of supernatural violence. But it also delivers quite a few laughs along with a strong message about the importance of family and supportive friends.

In Rear Window (PG, Grade: A-), famed director Alfred Hitchcock demonstrates why he’s the master of suspense. Starting off simply enough, the story of a man with broken legs watching his neighbors through his telephoto lens becomes urgent when he begins to suspect one of them of murder. As the plot thickens, the tension deepens. And, of course, any movie starring Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly is going to be worth watching.

There’s nothing like a good murder mystery to keep you on your toes. Kenneth Branagh has adapted two of Agatha Christie’s novels for film and the results, while not always faithful to the books, are well made and full of foreboding. Teen fans of whodunits will enjoy both Murder on the Orient Express (PG-13, Grade: B+)and Death on the Nile (PG-13, Grade: B-)as will their parents.

If you have mature teens and want to step into the world of horror, you can try Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. (PG-13, Grade: B-) This is a genuinely terrifying film despite comparatively low levels of violence (keep in mind the genre here…). Imagery is dark and creepy and the stories rack up almost unbearable levels of suspense. Don’t be surprised if you have trouble sleeping afterwards.

In the early 20th century, a lawyer is sent to a remote town to attend to the estate of a late widow. Her dilapidated mansion provides plenty of eerie sights and sounds and the lawyer becomes increasingly convinced that he feels the presence of his late wife. The Woman in Black (PG-13, Grade: C+) provides plenty of tension and lots of time to consider your own beliefs about the afterlife.

Take your pick, get out the snacks, and see who screams first - you or your kids. Happy Halloween!

More details about the movies mentioned in this post…