Five family scares for you and your 'little monsters' this Halloween - and how to watch them

What are some family-friendly films that you and the kids can watch this Halloween season?

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Film viewing over Halloween doesn’t need to be an adult affair: instead, it can be a chance for the family to gather around the television amongst all the decorations and spend some quality time together without having to roam the streets trick-or-treating. 

Horror movies as of late have looked to cater to juvenile audiences, with films such as ‘Twilight’ for example mixing an element of horror with teenage angst. But if even that is a little too much for your young ones to stomach, then might we suggest some ideas?

Some of the films on our list do have the odd moment of terror, even for an adult, and of course, NationalWorld recommends undergoing your due diligence to ensure that the films below are acceptable for your family. We’ve included BBFC classifications to ensure you know what you’re getting into.

Some of our films are classics, others are recent entries, but all have those elements of thrills and the odd scare, bringing that nostalgic element of secretly watching something you shouldn’t when younger  - sadly, it was ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’ for me. Definitely not family-friendly.

But for you dear reader, here are five films available now for some family Halloween 2023 entertainment.

Five horror movies suitable for family viewing

Hocus Pocus (1993)

Considered by many ‘90s kids as a rite of passage to view, ‘Hocus Pocus’ was a critical hit upon its initial release, with memorable and charismatic characters, particularly the Sanderson sisters played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy.

The good news is that to celebrate its 30th anniversary, Disney will be rereleasing the film in cinemas at the end of the month, just in time for the Halloween season.

  • Where to watch: returning to cinemas September 29 2023
  • BBFC Rating: PG (mild scary scenes, violence, sex references)

Haunted Mansion (2023)

Based on the Disney ride of the same name, ‘Haunted Mansion’ may have had a cruel hand dealt to it at the box office, no thanks to ‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer’ still being screened in cinemas at the same time, but the cast involved and the playful nature of the film is still worth you and your family’s watch this year. 

Astrophysicist Ben's life takes a supernatural turn when he marries Alyssa, a believer in the paranormal. Tragedy strikes, and after Alyssa's death, Ben abandons his career to lead ghost tours in her memory. Years later, widowed Gabbie, with her son Travis, opens a bed and breakfast in the haunted Gracey Manor. Ben and priest Father Kent join forces to investigate the mansion's supernatural phenomena. 

  • Where to watch: coming to Disney+ on October 4 2023
  • BBFC Rating: 12A (moderate horror)

The Addams Family (1991)

Some may argue this is more of a comedy than a horror, but the macabre nature of ‘The Addams Family’ and their sources of entertainment do fall more in the ‘horror-comedy’ than the ‘family-comedy’ genre. Plus we got spellbinding performances from the late Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston and a young Christina Ricci.

Such was the popularity of the film that it spawned the sequel, ‘Addams Family Values’ and more recently a spinoff starring Jenna Ortega as the Addams family member, ‘Wednesday.’  

  • Where to watch: available now on Paramount+
  • BBFC Rating: 12A (moderate bloody images)

Goosebumps (2015)

As a 40-something-year-old, I recall book sales at school featuring an array of titles published by Scholastic; none more thrilling than RL Stein’s collection of ‘Goosebumps’ books, which both scared a younger me and yet was never anything scarring - like a good horror movie at times can be.

Jack Black takes the role of the author in the movie adaptation, as teenager Zach Cooper and his mother move to Madison, Delaware, where he befriends his neighbour, Hannah, despite her father's warnings. Zach discovers a collection of locked manuscripts written by R.L. Stine, the creator of Goosebumps, but accidentally releases monsters from the books. Stine reveals that his creations come to life due to his supernatural imagination, and they must be recaptured.

  • Where to watch: available now on Netflix
  • BBFC Rating: PG (frequent scary scenes)

The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018)

Eli Roth is more known for his gruesome output of films, including ‘Hostel’ and ‘The Green Inferno,’ so when news emerged he was directing a film adaptation of John Bellairs’ 1973 novel, some of us asked “What’s the catch, and how’s he going to get a bucket of gore in it?”

Instead, it demonstrated that Roth isn’t just a gorno auteur, bringing together Jack Black (his second film in the list) and Cate Blanchett in a thrilling adaptation that has the jump scares you’ve come to known Roth for, with a very heartwarming story. This was definitely Roth directing against what he was renowned for - pure gore. Instead, we get pure family scares in it’s place. 

  • Where to watch: available now through all digital streaming stores
  • BBFC Rating: 12 (moderate threat, scary scenes)
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