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9 Great Teen Horror Starter Movies to Get You Ready for Five Nights at Freddy's
With Five Nights at Freddy's debuting this week, here are some other teen horror starter movies to watch too.
The release of Five Nights at Freddy's exclusively in theaters and on Peacock October 27 means this is the perfect time to plan a binge of other horror starter movies meant for a slightly tamer teen audience to watch either before or after director Emma Tammi's much-anticipated movie adaptation of the video games.
It's practically a rite of passage that every generation can list their personal horror films that were — either by choice, or by accident — their first. Often, they are movies meant to softly usher tweens and scare-adverse teens into the fun of experiencing a group jump scare in a darkened theater. We like to call them the PG-13 universe of scares that can be plenty intense, but not meant to induce nightmares into adulthood.
As such, SYFY WIRE has curated a collection of horror movies that have chills, thrills, and surprises but don't cross into the gory or super violent world of hardcore horror scares. These are great picks to watch with family or friends to keep the Five Nights vibe going and maybe even expand some horror horizons.
Teen Horror Starter Movies That Pair Great with Five Nights at Freddy's
The Invisible Man (1933)
Giving any of the classic Universal Monsters movies from the '30s and '40s a try is always a wise choice. However, today's teens aren't always open to black and white movies. The Invisible Man is a great place to start, though. It remains one of the most unhinged titles in the library of Universal Picture's classic horror films. James Whale directs actor Claude Rains to an almost gleefully, maniacal performance as Dr. Jack Griffin, who discovers and uses the secret of invisibility. The tone is one that will surprise a lot of younger viewers and break some of their presumptions about the classics.
The Birds (1963)
Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds celebrates the big 6-0 this year and it remains not only one of his best horror thrillers, but also a film that continues to fundamentally change how we look at our fine feathered friends. Even with the minimal effects techniques back in the day, the bird attack scenes remain highly effective for how Hitch uses his camera and the terrifying sound design. Might be a bit too intense for kids who haven't watched any horror at all, but it's a great level up for teens who are looking for great cinema and scares.
There have been a lot of Dracula adaptations brought to life, but not all of them are created equal. A surprisingly strong entry is Dan Curtis' Dracula, which stars Jack Palance as Count Dracula. The actor has the quirks and the gravitas to make a memorable Count, and a less terrifying starter watch for those who aren't ready for Coppola's Dracula or even The Lost Boys.
Multiple generations of tweens and teens have gotten their first tastes of horror/comedy via director Ivan Reitman's Ghostbusters. Since it takes place in New York City in the '80s, today's teens might be just as intrigued with how "old" and "dated" the city looks in the movie, but the comedy of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson as the not-so-serious Ghostbusters remains timeless. There are also genuine scares, mostly done with prosthetics and VFX, that still hold up 40 years later.
Krampus writer/director Michael Dougherty makes the holiday funny-yet-chilling as the world's worst families get together to "celebrate" Christmas together. The protagonist is young Max Engel (Emjay Anthony), who usually loves the season but finds it ruined by his parents and extended family who bring their misery all under one roof. Their bad vibes push the poor kid to scream that he hates his family and Christmas, which unleashes the demonic Krampus, who seeks out the naughty for some dark punishment.
The Visit (2015)
The Visit is director M. Night Shyamalan's first foray into the "found footage" genre, and it's a winner. He places the camera in the hands of two siblings, Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould), who are visiting their grandparents for the very first time in rural Pennsylvania. Having the story unfold in the voices of two tech smart and intelligent teens is not only a draw for teens in the audience who don't appreciate being talked down to, but it also keeps the comedy and scares in balance for horror newbies. DeJonge and Oxenbould ably carry the film on their young shoulders, really selling the increasing paranoia the pair are experiencing as they're left to their own devices to figure out what's going on and how much trouble they might be in out in the middle of nowhere with Nana and Pop Pop.
For the teens who love some real life stories behind their scares, Winchester is a dramatization of the lore surrounding Sarah Winchester and her supposedly haunted Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. Helen Mirren plays Sarah in this period piece that covers a few important days that were rumored to have taken place inside the house. It will appeal to the young true crime and true history fans that will then run to find out more about the real story.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)
Based on Alvin Schwartz's book of the same name, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is framed around three teens in 1968 who find a book of stories that relay great terrors to the readers. It's meant for the teen-and-up crowd and is based on a story idea by Guillermo del Toro, an auteur whose whole career revolves around scaring audiences of all ages.
Happy Death Day 2U (2019)
Happy Death Day 2U is one of the rare follow-ups that matches the charm, scares, and comedy of the first movie. This will definitely appeal to more savvy teens who have some horror under their belts, but also to those that like sci-fi in their scary stories stories too. Jessica Rothe is great as the heroine and protagonist, Theresa "Tree" Gelbman, who is a smart, funny, and savvy character to guide this two-part series.
You can watch all of these selections and find a lot more in Peacock's Halloween Horror library streaming now.