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58 voters

The Best Horror Movies About Parenting

Updated February 25, 2020 1.4k votes 58 voters55 items

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.

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    43
    13

    The Exorcist

    Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn

    Released1973

    Directed byWilliam Friedkin

    The Exorcist is a 1973 American supernatural horror film directed by William Friedkin, adapted by William Peter Blatty from his 1971 novel of the same name. The book, inspired by the 1949 exorcism...  more
  • 2
    34
    5

    The Sixth Sense

    Bruce Willis, Mischa Barton

    Released1999

    Directed byM. Night Shyamalan

    The Sixth Sense is a 1999 American supernatural thriller film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The film tells the story of Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), a troubled, isolated boy who is...  more
  • 3
    40
    13

    The Babadook

    Essie Davis, Daniel Henshall

    Released2014

    Directed byJennifer Kent

    The Babadook is a 2014 Australian psychological horror film, written and directed by Jennifer Kent, in which a woman and her son are tormented by a "boogie-man" type monster. The film stars Essie...  more
  • 4
    33
    8

    The Omen

    Gregory Peck, Lee Remick

    Released1976

    Directed byRichard Donner

    The Omen is a 1976 British/American supernatural horror film directed by Richard Donner. The film stars Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Harvey Spencer Stephens, Billie Whitelaw, Patrick...  more
  • 5
    36
    15

    We Need to Talk About Kevin

    Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly

    Released2011

    Directed byLynne Ramsay

    We Need to Talk About Kevin is a 2011 British-American psychological thriller film directed by Lynne Ramsay, adapted from Lionel Shriver's novel of the same name. Kevin's mother (Tilda Swinton)...  more
  • 6
    38
    18

    Child's Play

    Brad Dourif, Catherine Hicks

    Released1988

    Directed byTom Holland

    Child's Play is a 1988 American horror film directed by Tom Holland, written by Tom Holland, Don Mancini, and John Lafia, and starring Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent, and Brad Dourif....  more
  • 7
    27
    6

    The Ring

    Naomi Watts, Pauley Perrette

    Released2002

    Directed byGore Verbinski

    The Ring is a 2002 American psychological horror film directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Naomi Watts. It is a remake of the 1998 Japanese horror film Ring, which was based on the novel Ring by...  more
  • 8
    31
    12

    Hereditary

    Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne

    Released2018

    Directed byAri Aster

    Hereditary is a 2018 American horror film directed by Ari Aster. As an overwhelming terror takes over their household, the Graham family's peaceful existence is ripped apart, forcing their mother...  more
  • 9
    36
    18

    Mama

    Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

    Released2013

    Directed byAndres Muschietti

    Mama is a 2013 horror film written by Neil Cross, Andres Muschietti and Barbara Muschietti and directed by Andres Muschietti....  more
  • 10
    31
    17

    Poltergeist

    Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams

    Released1982

    Directed byTobe Hooper

    Poltergeist is a 1982 American supernatural thriller film, directed by Tobe Hooper and co-written and produced by Steven Spielberg. It is the first and most successful entry in the Poltergeist film...  more
  • 11
    27
    12

    The Shining

    Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall

    Released1980

    Directed byStanley Kubrick

    The Shining is a 1980 British-American psychological horror film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, co-written with novelist Diane Johnson, and starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny...  more
  • 12
    32
    20

    The Conjuring

    Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson

    Released2013

    Directed byJames Wan

    The Conjuring is a 2013 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan and the first installment in the Conjuring series. Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) are...  more
  • 13
    19
    7

    Fear

    Reese Witherspoon, Alyssa Milano

    Released1996

    Directed byJames Foley

    Fear is a 1996 American thriller drama film directed by James Foley. It was written by Christopher Crowe, who created the TV series B.L. Stryker, The Watcher, B.J. and the Bear and Seven Days. The...  more
  • 14
    23
    12

    Orphan

    Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard

    Released2009

    Directed byJaume Collet-Serra

    Orphan is a 2009 American psychological thriller film directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. It stars Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard and Isabelle Fuhrman. The film centers on a couple who adopt a mysterious...  more
  • 15
    25
    15

    A Quiet Place

    John Krasinski, Emily Blunt

    Released2018

    Directed byJohn Krasinski

    A Quiet Place is a 2018 American supernatural horror film directed by John Krasinski. A family living on a farm hides from a supernatural evil attracted to sound by avoiding making sound and...  more
  • 16
    18
    7

    The Others

    Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston

    Released2001

    Directed byAlejandro Amenábar

    The Others is a 2001 horror-thriller film written, directed and scored by Alejandro Amenábar. It stars Nicole Kidman and Fionnula Flanagan. It won eight Goya Awards, including awards for Best Film...  more
  • 17
    28
    19

    Insidious

    Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey

    Released2010

    Directed byJames Wan

    Insidious is a 2011 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan, written by Leigh Whannell, and starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne and Barbara Hershey. It is the first installment in the...  more
  • 18
    22
    18

    A Haunting in Connecticut

    Tony Call, Lorraine Warren

    Released2002

    Directed byPeter Cornwell

    The Haunting in Connecticut is a 2009 American psychological horror film directed by Peter Cornwell....  more
  • 19
    9
    2

    Carrie

    John Travolta, Sissy Spacek

    Released1976

    Directed byBrian De Palma

    Carrie is a 1976 American supernatural horror film based on Stephen King's first major 1974 novel of the same name. The film was directed by Brian De Palma and written by Lawrence D. Cohen. The film...  more
  • 20
    10
    5

    Bird Box

    Sandra Bullock, Sarah Paulson

    Released2018

    Directed bySusanne Bier

    Bird Box is a 2018 American post-apocalyptic film directed by Susanne Bier, based on the novel by Josh Malerman. A woman (Sandra Bullock) and a pair of children are blindfolded as they make their way...  more
  • 21
    16
    14

    Alice, Sweet Alice

    Brooke Shields, Lillian Roth

    Released1976

    Directed byAlfred Sole

    Alice, Sweet Alice is a 1976 American slasher film co-written and directed by Alfred Sole, and starring Linda Miller, Paula Sheppard, and Brooke Shields in her film debut. The narrative focuses on a...  more
  • 22
    12
    8

    Flowers in the Attic

    Kristy Swanson, Louise Fletcher

    Released1987

    Directed byJeffrey Bloom

    Flowers in the Attic is a 1987 psychological horror film starring Louise Fletcher, Victoria Tennant, Kristy Swanson, and Jeb Stuart Adams. It is based on the 1979 novel of the same name by V. C....  more
  • 23
    9
    4

    Cujo

    Dee Wallace, Danny Pintauro

    Released1983

    Directed byLewis Teague

    Cujo is a 1983 American psychological horror/thriller film based on Stephen King's novel of the same name. It was directed by Lewis Teague, and written by Don Carlos Dunaway and Lauren Currier....  more
  • 24
    16
    14

    The Bad Seed

    Shelley Fabares, Patty McCormack

    Released1956

    Directed byMervyn LeRoy

    The Bad Seed is a 1956 American horror-thriller film directed by Mervyn LeRoy and starring Nancy Kelly, Patty McCormack, Henry Jones, and Eileen Heckart The film is based upon a play by Maxwell...  more
  • 25
    15
    13

    Hide and Seek

    Robert De Niro, Dakota Fanning

    Released2005

    Directed byJohn Polson

    Hide and Seek is a 2005 American horror film starring Robert De Niro and Dakota Fanning. It was directed by John Polson. The film opened in the United States on January 28, 2005 and was a massive box...  more