Parental Guidance

Three Family-Friendly Haunted House Movies That Are Better than Insidious: The Last Key

by | January 5, 2018 | Comments

2018 is finally here, and the first big release of the year is the latest (and presumably final) chapter in the Insidious franchise. It’s a PG-13 horror flick, but if you don’t think your kids could handle it — or if you don’t think they’ll particularly care for it — then we’ve got a few alternatives in mind. Read on for Christy’s take on Insidious: The Last Key and three recommendations you can watch at home instead.


THE MOVIE

Insidious: The Last Key (2018) 33%

Rating: PG-13, for disturbing thematic content, violence and terror and brief strong language.

The fourth and presumably last movie in the Insidious franchise (if the title is providing any clues) is better than you might expect from a January horror movie. But it’s also quite scary, with several startling jump scares and disturbing imagery throughout. If you already had reservations about going down into the basement, the latest Insidious movie will do nothing to reassure you. The great character actress Lin Shaye returns to the central role of parapsychologist Elise, who helps families purge their houses of the demons that are haunting them. But this time, she gets a call from a man living in her childhood home in small-town New Mexico, which forces her to relive the horrors she endured there from her cruel father. The physical and psychological abuse thrust upon Elise as a girl decades earlier is actually harder to watch than any spiritual frights – but those will freak you out, too. Insidious: The Last Key can be a joltingly noisy movie, but director Adam Robitel also puts you on edge through the use of silence in this dark, creepy house. Fine for viewers around 13 and older… if they dare.


THE RECOMMENDATIONS

If the latest Insidious is too intense for your kids (and it probably will be), here are some other haunted house movies for various ages that you and your family will enjoy:

Monster House (2006) 75%

Rating: PG, for scary images and sequences, thematic elements, some crude humor and brief language.

An animated delight from producers Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis, Monster House is about a house that is literally a monster. Three teenagers (voiced by Mitchell Musso, Sam Lerner, and Spencer Locke) discover that the house across the street isn’t merely creepy and dilapidated, as it looks from the outside. It’s a living, breathing entity that chews up people and things and sometimes spits them back out again. Windows serve as eyes and a long, red carpet lashes out like a tongue. It’s possessed by a soul seeking revenge from beyond the grave, and it thrives on the energy of humans. That may sound pretty scary, and it may be too intense for very little kids. Along those lines, the stop-motion animated characters may look a tad off-kilter, given how much technology has improved over the past decade. But most younger viewers will find Monster House to be a clever and amusing adventure. The teen characters here are in constant danger but they’re resourceful and (eventually) brave, and they work together as a team. Fine for viewers around 7 and older – and perhaps a great, first scary movie to show your kids.


Beetlejuice (1988) 85%

Rating: PG, for adult situations/language and violence.

One of Tim Burton’s earliest and best films – it’s only his second feature after Pee-wee’s Big Adventure – this oozes his signature mix of playful and macabre, colorful and dark. Michael Keaton gives one of the greatest comic performances of his long and varied career as the title character: a raunchy and profane spirit-for-hire who helps a recently deceased couple (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) scare the new owners out of their home. Perfect for the conspicuous consumption of the era, the new husband and wife are obnoxious yuppies (Catherine O’Hara and Jeffrey Jones) who throw lavish parties for their horrible friends. Only the couple’s sullen teenage daughter (Winona Ryder in one of her key roles) can see and sympathize with the dead couple. Beetlejuice is lively and ton of fun, with the wildly detailed costumes and production design we’ve come to expect over the years from Burton’s films. Some of the humor is rather adult – especially from the hard-partying Beetlejuice himself, who visits a brothel at one point. There’s some scattered, strong language. And fundamentally, the film is about a couple coming to grips with the fact that they’re no longer alive, which may be disturbing for younger viewers. But the racier material will probably go over a lot of kids’ heads. Fine for around ages 10 and up.


Poltergeist (1982) 86%

Rating: PG, for adult situations/language and violence.

One of the greatest horror movies, period, but also one of the greatest haunted-house movies. Poltergeist kept me awake many a night when I was a little girl; in retrospect, I was probably too young to see it, but hey – I had permissive parents. (You guys will show better judgment, I’m sure.) But Tobe Hooper’s film, which Spielberg produced and co-wrote, is a must-see (or re-see) as a thrilling exploration of the dark side of suburbia. It features so many iconic lines and images; you’ve probably never looked at a snowy television screen the same way since. And Lin Shaye’s character in the Insidious movies definitely calls to mind the late, great Zelda Rubenstein as the brilliant and eccentric medium who famously “cleaned” the haunted house of Poltergeist. Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, and Beatrice Straight lead the excellent cast. A family enjoying the supposed security of Southern California tract-housing bliss finds everything upended when their youngest child, Carol Ann (the late, deeply creepy Heather O’Rourke), hears voices, then gets sucked into another dimension by a host of restless spirits. Poltergeist vividly explores childhood fears; from the toys to the closets to even the wind in the trees, nothing is safe. And the climax that reveals why the angry souls are stirring things up is truly nightmarish. A great choice for tweens and older who can handle inspired, real-world scares.

Tag Cloud

X-Men DC streaming service worst movies theme song television docudrama political drama Cartoon Network Thanksgiving VICE spinoff Marvel renewed TV shows strong female leads Comics on TV biography Reality Competition aliens HBO Lifetime Christmas movies DGA Musical casting PBS PlayStation rotten movies we love cancelled television cancelled Holidays halloween Pixar Paramount Network batman thriller adventure President spanish spider-man Mary Poppins Returns Lionsgate screenings Grammys Toys technology blockbuster Horror based on movie south america USA satire cancelled TV series reviews Red Carpet Mudbound Black Mirror Masterpiece Winter TV Music die hard all-time Comedy free movies Awards Avengers CNN kids facebook Mindy Kaling Reality a nightmare on elm street Creative Arts Emmys police drama blaxploitation obituary Endgame movies MTV toronto news BBC America spanish language Fox Searchlight Academy Awards cancelled TV shows nbcuniversal scary movies social media book dramedy ABC Family American Society of Cinematographers doctor who dragons GLAAD Warner Bros. New York Comic Con CBS All Access sitcom Classic Film ghosts Country indiana jones sag awards WarnerMedia ratings Drama Binge Guide ITV harry potter TBS Shondaland SDCC HBO Go Netflix sequels 007 Cosplay comics Writers Guild of America TV renewals werewolf Travel Channel Columbia Pictures Esquire Starz Star Wars National Geographic science fiction teaser The CW FOX 45 rotten Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt worst period drama spain YouTube Premium Infographic Comedy Central japanese Amazon Prime Video Emmys Adult Swim Family TCA Discovery Channel Disney Holiday golden globes 4/20 Pride Month cooking stop motion finale TCA Winter 2020 cars Spring TV Disney+ Disney Plus politics TCA Awards Showtime ABC Calendar dark chucky french Women's History Month video on demand game show child's play Box Office christmas movies disaster SXSW CMT Premiere Dates binge Stephen King robots Crunchyroll children's TV documentary Polls and Games PaleyFest nature toy story San Diego Comic-Con Nickelodeon mockumentary laika sequel Fantasy independent Kids & Family 2015 movie Netflix Christmas movies Logo Dark Horse Comics Pirates 2017 CW Seed green book psycho NBC Black History Month medical drama Comic Book zombies Teen crime thriller Pet Sematary dceu SundanceTV HBO Max Biopics YouTube Red comedies cartoon Super Bowl YouTube Rock Tomatazos TV Land The Walking Dead Vudu Election Extras BBC dc boxoffice Oscars Tumblr Acorn TV IFC E3 Cannes TruTV Television Academy comic halloween tv tv talk Western See It Skip It romantic comedy Character Guide anthology Interview BET Awards directors VH1 Fox News screen actors guild USA Network Awards Tour foreign Animation Hear Us Out asian-american what to watch crime Amazon Prime 72 Emmy Awards war DC Universe IFC Films anime VOD Disney Channel streaming Sci-Fi Ovation LGBT Trailer australia dogs The Purge fast and furious archives TNT Star Trek Photos Food Network Elton John zombie TV Paramount Mystery elevated horror 2019 YA space Certified Fresh discovery MSNBC Sundance revenge slashers transformers Mary poppins Apple TV Plus breaking bad FX cats AMC Rocky vampires Superheroe Song of Ice and Fire singing competition twilight Captain marvel best versus award winner hist Tubi Summer diversity DirecTV Chernobyl APB jamie lee curtis crossover Funimation mission: impossible true crime joker Film Apple ESPN cults 2020 romance Heroines Epix Video Games Superheroes Syfy Best and Worst talk show WGN 20th Century Fox Marathons Britbox Musicals Spike stoner OWN Universal Brie Larson LGBTQ miniseries Baby Yoda Spectrum Originals Television Critics Association Quiz Rocketman Trivia History cops Opinion Nat Geo RT History concert game of thrones BBC One Walt Disney Pictures animated canceled supernatural natural history italian Martial Arts Rom-Com parents nfl superhero Sundance TV documentaries RT21 FX on Hulu Countdown witnail CBS Freeform FXX travel The Witch A&E video Turner indie BAFTA criterion composers mutant comiccon Sneak Peek festival Arrowverse remakes Lifetime Valentine's Day Hallmark Christmas movies Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Marvel Studios Schedule emmy awards Nominations 71st Emmy Awards latino quibi MCU Christmas Film Festival 24 frames Anna Paquin Disney Plus Mary Tyler Moore Ghostbusters BET Lucasfilm Emmy Nominations NYCC richard e. Grant Fall TV unscripted Amazon Studios critics hispanic OneApp name the review Set visit reboot Action Bravo TIFF serial killer Pop universal monsters spy thriller Ellie Kemper Amazon Trophy Talk 2018 historical drama Crackle cinemax Shudder TLC Apple TV+ hollywood Disney streaming service 21st Century Fox films TCM El Rey Watching Series Sundance Now crime drama GoT sports TCA 2017 The Arrangement classics Year in Review football stand-up comedy E! First Look Marvel Television First Reviews Peacock The Academy franchise series justice league zero dark thirty Tarantino A24 DC Comics canceled TV shows Hulu scorecard festivals GIFs Winners Pop TV Turner Classic Movies Podcast Sony Pictures psychological thriller venice 2016 adaptation Hallmark