The Horror! Should You Let Your Tween Watch Horror Movies?
I remember my first horror movie like it was yesterday. It was "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3" and I was at a sleepover in 7th grade. I remember it being such a taboo, such a new and exciting experience that I was enthralled with the slasher flick from beginning to end. It was the beginning of a lifelong love of horror movies that continues to this day. But did I start too early? I don't think so, but let's look at both sides of the situation and discuss.
Horror movies and tweens are a match made in bloody heaven. They're always at least PG-13 if not R rated, they're gory, filled with violence and language and the older ones were sure to involve nudity of some sort (the 80s loved boobs in horror movies, for some reason) which is the perfect cocktail for tweens who are way too cool for Disney but haven't really grown enough for serious drama. Back in the day, a horror movie was a staple at sleepovers, and even though it's been quite some time since I've been to a sleepover or been a tween, I can't imagine it's changed too much. But of course, there's a reason they are rated PG-13 or R, and the obscene violence and gore in these movies, as cartoonish as they are, is not something to be shrugged away. However, let's face it, a horror movie isn't real, and I know I would much rather watch a slasher flick than violence on the news, so is it really that big of a deal?
It seems that whenever I go to the movies to see a horror movie, half the theater is filled with teenagers, and frankly, that's the audience I expect to find at such movies. Horror movies are not exactly difficult to follow, the plots are thin at best, and the action is exciting. Also, frankly, gory cartoonish violence is hilarious to tweens, because it isn't REAL to them. As I have written before, it isn't an easy decision to show kids the news and the horrors within, but is it easier to let them watch Freddy Krueger or Pennywise the Clown slaughter a town of knuckleheads? It may sound controversial, but I think it IS easier.
Horror movies are fantasy. With a few exceptions, they are not set in real situations, unless you happen to have a murderous doll hanging out in your attic. They're as unrealistic as cartoons, and tweens love the rush of being scared when they know deep down that this is not a situation they'll ever be in. So maybe when your tween wants to see a horror movie, check the reviews and consider it. The worst that can happen is that they'll lose a night of sleep, which was a rite of passage back in the day, and the best that will happen would be a raucous night with their friends. As long as you're active in finding out what's involved in the movie (some horror movies are a little TOO much, even for me, and I've been a fan forever) and maybe ask your friends who might have seen it (Facebook is great for this) your tween's first horror movie might just be what it's supposed to be. A lot of bloody fun.