The Best Horror Movies About Parenting

Parenting can be scary. Talk to anyone with children and they'll tell you that the fear of messing up their kids is a prime concern. The best scary movies about parenting do nothing to placate those worries. Horror films have been mining this subject for decades. It's easy to see why. Tapping into something pretty much all parents feel is a great way to get audiences nice and creeped out. 

Many horror movies about moms and dads have their protagonists protecting children from some form of harm. Who could forget The Exorcist, in which frightened mother Ellen Burstyn asks a priest to remove the demon that has overtaken her daughter? Others are more about a parent struggling with their own feelings regarding their child. The Babadook, for instance, features a mom who blames her son for the untimely passing of her husband, and therefore struggles with ambivalent emotions. And then there are the pictures in which a parent tries to comprehend the eerie or troubling behavior of their offspring. Goodnight Mommy is about as powerful an example of that as you'll find. 

The following list contains all three types. Some of the films have the parenting angle front and center, while in others, it's one key component in a larger story. Which of them gives you the most severe chills? Which keep you up at night when you think about their themes? Vote up your favorite horror movies about parenting.

Ranked by
  • Carrie
    Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, William Katt
    • Released: 1976
    • Directed by: Brian De Palma
  • Orphan
    Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Isabelle Fuhrman
    • Released: 2009
    • Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra
  • The Sixth Sense
    Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette
    • Released: 1999
    • Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
  • Cujo
    Dee Wallace, Danny Pintauro, Daniel Hugh Kelly
    • Released: 1983
    • Directed by: Lewis Teague
  • Poltergeist
    Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Beatrice Straight
    • Released: 1982
    • Directed by: Tobe Hooper
  • The Omen
    Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner
    • Released: 1976
    • Directed by: Richard Donner
  • The Shining
    Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd
    • Released: 1980
    • Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
  • The Exorcist
    Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Max von Sydow
    • Released: 1973
    • Directed by: William Friedkin
  • The Ring
    Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, David Dorfman
    • Released: 2002
    • Directed by: Gore Verbinski
  • Cape Fear
    Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange
    • Released: 1991
    • Directed by: Martin Scorsese
  • The Amityville Horror
    James Brolin, Margot Kidder, Rod Steiger
    • Released: 1979
    • Directed by: Stuart Rosenberg
  • Fear
    Mark Wahlberg, Reese Witherspoon, William Petersen
    • Released: 1996
    • Directed by: James Foley
  • Pan's Labyrinth
    Sergi López, Maribel Verdú, Ivana Baquero
    • Released: 2006
    • Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
  • The Others
    Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Alakina Mann
    • Released: 2001
    • Directed by: Alejandro Amenábar
  • Child's Play
    Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent
    • Released: 1988
    • Directed by: Tom Holland
  • Bird Box
    Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, Jacki Weaver
    • Released: 2018
    • Directed by: Susanne Bier
  • A Quiet Place
    Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds
    • Released: 2018
    • Directed by: John Krasinski
  • Flowers in the Attic
    Louise Fletcher, Victoria Tennant, Kristy Swanson
    • Released: 1987
    • Directed by: Jeffrey Bloom
  • Hereditary
    Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff
    • Released: 2018
    • Directed by: Ari Aster
  • The Bad Seed
    Nancy Kelly, Patty McCormack, Henry Jones
    • Released: 1956
    • Directed by: Mervyn LeRoy
  • Mama
    Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier
    • Released: 2013
    • Directed by: Andy Muschietti
  • Silent Hill
    Radha Mitchell, Laurie Holden, Sean Bean
    • Released: 2006
    • Directed by: Christophe Gans
  • The Babadook
    Essie Davis, Daniel Henshall, Noah Wiseman
    • Released: 2014
    • Directed by: Jennifer Kent
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin
    Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller
    • Released: 2011
    • Directed by: Lynne Ramsay
  • Sinister
    Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, James Ransone
    • Released: 2012
    • Directed by: Scott Derrickson