Is There Such a Thing as Child-Friendly Horror Movies?

A scene from 'Frankenweenie,' in theaters Oct. 5 (Disney)
They’re coming. Over the next few months, parents are going to see an onslaught of horror based movies that are aimed directly at their children. Paranorman, Frankenweenie and Hotel Transylvania may look like harmless humor horror for the harvest season, but they represent more than just the Halloween creep. These movies desensitize our children to even more satanic evil and violence that they will see on the big screen later in life.

Over the past few years, Ted Baehr and the Christian Film & Television Commission have been making inroads. The transformation of Hollywood toward a more God-respecting attitude has been seen in movies like The Blind Side, The Avengers, Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides and Soul Surfer. For a brief moment we were able to see the positive trickle-down effect, but with any victory we must always expect the enemy to launch a counterattack.

Are these so called “kid-friendly” horror films really that bad for children? Movieguide, of course, can give you the best source of guidance so you are aware of the theme and content of a movie before you give your children the OK to see it. Even so, telling your child, “No, you can’t see that movie,” is never easy. For the culture-wise family, this new string of movies about to flood our theaters can sound like the drums of war.

Let’s face it. Monsters are cool. People love them. Who will ever forget the Star Wars cantina scene or the orcs from Lord of the Rings? Pixar’s Monsters Inc. is a fine example of a wholesome, kid-friendly monster movie, not because of the fear factor, but because of the “fear not” message.

The message is the deciding factor that makes or breaks any movie. Horror films are no exception, but for a horror film intended for the especially young, it’s more than just entertainment; it’s crucial to developing a child’s worldview.

A monster movie with a poor moral message may not only frighten and depress young viewers, but it might plant a seed of curiosity that grows into a fascination with the occult. Still sound harmless? People involved in the occult are more likely to be sexually promiscuous, contract STDs, abuse drug and alcohol, have affairs outside of marriage or a committed relationship, have a harder time raising their children, and have children who follow their practices by taking them “to the next level.” If we don’t redeem the media, these people may not be your children, but they’ll be your future neighbors whom you will be called by God to love.

Finally, there is a direct correlation between horror movies and depression. We get to a point where scary movies aren’t that scary anymore, but that doesn’t mean they don’t affect us. Learning about special effects changed the way I looked at movies. Suddenly, horror wasn’t so horrifying anymore.

Even though I wasn’t afraid anymore, I still couldn’t overcome the nihilistic depression those movies could cause. Thankfully, I knew I had a relationship with Jesus Christ. Because of Him, I knew there was more to living than just dying and that the horrible spiritual battle I was seeing had already been won. Many young people are not as fortunate.

Viewers ages of 12 to 25 (and older) are drawn to horror films. The world is a scary place and many feel that if they can sit through the darkest, scariest movie they can find, they will be strong enough to handle the world they will one day have to face. Imagine what this can do to a child’s worldview. They feel the need to get hard, get bad and get tough. Goodness and compassion are for the weak. That this worldview is now being thrust upon children even younger than 12 is more horrifying than any movie could ever hope to be.

We must pray for the redemption of the media and cast our votes at the box office. Until then, may I suggest snuggling up at home with some good DVDs.

Click here for the original article from Movieguide.

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