Let’s be real. Most of the best horror movies are rated-R. From the classics to the contemporary hits, the horror genre thrives when filmmakers are allowed to throw out the rule book and pursue their darkest dreams uncensored. On the flip side, PG-13 horror fare has somewhat fairly earned a reputation for largely comprising of fairly crass studio cash-grabs that are more or less horror-baiting; the promise and pretexts of scares without actually delivering the goods.
But that’s not always the case. Occasionally, filmmakers find a way to make the family-friendly rating work. Usually, you’ll see it in monster movies or supernatural fare; the kind of films that thrive on tension over shock and don’t require gore gags to punctuate their scary set-pieces. Because the PG-13 rating is still relatively new (it was invented in 1984), and because the PG-13 films of the 80s and 90s were more focused on camp and cheekiness than outright scares, the films on this list are all pretty recent. So just keep in mind, it’s not a comprehensive list and it’s not a list of the “best” PG-13 horror movies, it’s about the ones that actually manage to be scary despite the constraints of the rating. I love
So just keep in mind, this isn’t a comprehensive list and it’s not a list of the “best” PG-13 horror movies, it’s about the ones that actually manage to be scary despite the constraints of the rating. I love Arachnophobia and The Monster Squad, but scary they are not. So with the housekeeping notes out of the way, let’s dig into the PG-13 movies that prove you don’t need to be rated-R to bring the scares, and be sure to sound off in the comments with your favorites.