Horror movies aren’t just for grown ups. And it isn’t always easy to find a horror movie that a younger teen can watch and that is not filled with gore, profanity or nudity. Yet, myself and plenty of other people have enjoyed horror movies since being a kid. Here are some of the best PG-13 horror movies for teens and young adults.
For any parents out there, keep in mind that when some of these were released on DVD they came out with unrated versions. Typically that means they added something small and have to mark it as unrated because whatever they onto the DVD release wasn’t in the version the MPAA gave the theatrical release. There are also other PG-13 horror movies out there, these just happen to be my personal favorites.
By the way, if the movies on this list are too scary – you can check out our List of Scary Movies For Children which includes goodies like Paranorman, Frankenweenie and Nightmare before Christmas.
The Grudge – The American remake of what was originally a Japanese horror film. A woman moves to Tokyo and encounters an evil spirit that causes the deaths of those it comes in contact with. She then needs to figure out how to stop the deaths from continuing. There is next to no blood in the movie and it still manages to be scary. It builds up suspense and then makes you jump a foot. There is also a sequel that is also PG-13. The original Japanese film (Ju-on) is rated R.
The Ring – Another American remake of a Japanese horror film. This film focuses on a video tape that, once viewed, will cause the viewer to die in 7 days. This movie is another one that builds up suspense then makes you jump when something happens. The original (Ringu) is not rated.
The Uninvited – I feel like this movie slid under the radar when it first came out, but it is a great suspenseful horror movie. A teenage girl returns to the home where her mother died, but the presence of a ghost threatens her already tense return to her sister, father and stepmother. My favorite part of this one is the ending. There’s no nudity, but there is some mild/moderate sexuality.
Gremlins– A classic horror movie that every kid should get to see at least once. A young boy gets an exotic new pet that has a few guidelines for it’s care. These guidelines aren’t followed and some chaos ensues. It has some comedic aspects as well and Gizmo is adorable. If only mogwais were real.
An American Haunting– Supposedly based on a true story (Legend of the Bell Witch) in which a teenage girl in the early 1800’s is haunted by a spirit whose haunting progresses from mild to severe. The movie has a twist ending, and to anyone who has read Bell Witch stories you probably won’t like the ending to this movie. For anyone who doesn’t know the story of the Bell Witch, give it a go for some scary scenes!
The Haunting of Molly Hartley– Another horror movie that seemed to go under the radar when it was released, but certainly a good watch. Teenage Molly Hartley and her father move to a new town, but Molly’s worried not only about the secrets of her past but also what is supposed to happen when she turns 18. There are a couple of scenes that will make you jump. The plot points that are revealed along the way aren’t the usual ones that you would find in a horror movie.
Poltergeist – Another classic horror movie that every young kid should give a try if they want to be spooked. Evil spirits contact a young girl via television static and kidnap her. The family then tries to get her back. Features one of the creepier lines from horror movie history “they’re heeere”.
The Possession – When I first saw the trailer for this I brushed it off, but when I finally watched it I definitely regretted brushing it off. A father buys an antique box at a yard sale for his youngest daughter. They find out the box comes from an old woman who had recently died. Unfortunately the box contains an evil spirit that possesses her. This movie gets you into the story and will continuously pile on creepy scene after creepy scene as the parents try and figure out how to save their young daughter. The imagery has a haunting beauty to it in some points, particularly when some moths are involved. It’s a great choice for sure.
The Messengers – This movie can be a bit slow, but hang in there because it gets creepy. A family moves to a farm in a small town and something mysterious tries to turn the family members against each other. It isn’t the most original story you’ll ever see but it has some parts to make you jump. It is a decent watch.
Insidious – This is a particularly great PG-13 horror movie that can definitely give a good scare to any adults watching it as well. A family moves into a new home where one of their young sons falls into a mysterious coma. The family is then subject to all manner of spooky occurrences and they have to figure out the correlation of the supernatural occurrences and their comatose son. This movie looks great and has a lot of great scares in it. There’s also a sequel, which isn’t terrible, but this one is way better.
The Skeleton Key – I wasn’t quite sure where this movie was was heading when I first saw it, but it builds suspense with small scares and has a good ending. A nurse gets a job at a creepy old plantation in the south. Due to her curiosity she discovers the houses’ past holds some secrets that are supernatural, involving hoodoo rituals. Again, it can be a bit slow moving, but it’s a good suspenseful horror film.
Boogeyman – A movie about the monster from your childhood, the infamous Boogeyman. The scariest thing about this film is the shadowy figure of the boogeyman. Yes, you will see the boogeyman in the movie, but what I found scary was how the movie hints at it, letting the viewer imagine a boogeyman that terrifies them. It plays on your imagination somewhat.
1408 – This movie is based on a short story by Stephen King, and both the short story and this movie are great. A man who writes about haunted hotels finds out about a room where numerous past guests have died. Being a jaded alcoholic who doesn’t believe in hauntings, he ignores the managers warning and stays in the room with scary results. This movie is great an one of my favorites on this list. With most Stephen King material you have a high chance of being freaked out.
Mama – With some fantastic and highly creepy graphics, the visuals in this movie may be somewhat difficult to forget right away. Mama is about two young children that are lost in a rural forest and are found alive 5 years later, in a backwoods cabin. After the two girls are returned back to society, they carry some unusual traits that…well, you’ll see. It’s easy to adore the two main characters in the movie because they’re clearly two young children that have struggled to cope with the cards life has dealt them. I’ve considered re-watching this great clip for his graphics quality and excellent story-line.
PARENTAL ADVISORY: Just because some of these movies are rated PG-13, does not necessarily mean that they’re appropriate for your children. Take caution when selecting horror movies for your kids. Some factors that are important to consider are your childs age, maturity level, experience with horror films, comfort with scary themes and potential health precautions.