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The Best Horror Movies About Parenting

Updated February 25, 2020 1.1k votes 42 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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  • 1
    The Exorcist is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Horror Movies About Parenting
    37
    11

    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... more on Wikipediaamazon_watch buy button
  • 2
    The Sixth Sense is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Horror Movies About Parenting
    27
    2

    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... more on Wikipediaamazon_watch buy button
  • 3
    The Babadook is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Horror Movies About Parenting
    32
    10

    The Babadook

    Essie Davis, Daniel Henshall

    Released2014

    Directed byJennifer Kent

    The Babadook is a 2014 Australian psychological horror film, written and directed by Jennifer... more on Wikipediaamazon_watch buy button
  • 4
    The Omen is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Horror Movies About Parenting
    28
    7

    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... more on Wikipediaamazon_watch buy button
  • 5
    Child's Play is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Horror Movies About Parenting
    32
    15

    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,... more on Wikipediaamazon_watch buy button
  • 6
    Hereditary is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Horror Movies About Parenting
    27
    10

    Hereditary

    Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne

    Released2018

    Directed byAri Aster

    Hereditary is a 2018 American horror film directed by Ari Aster. As an overwhelming terror... more on Wikipediaamazon_watch buy button
  • 7
    We Need to Talk About Kevin is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Horror Movies About Parenting
    30
    14

    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... more on Wikipediaamazon_watch buy button
  • 8
    Mama is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Horror Movies About Parenting
    31
    17

    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... more on Wikipediaamazon_watch buy button
  • 9
    The Ring is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Horror Movies About Parenting
    21
    5

    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... more on Wikipediaamazon_watch buy button
  • 10
    The Conjuring is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Horror Movies About Parenting
    30
    18

    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... more on Wikipediaamazon_watch buy button
  • 11
    Poltergeist is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Horror Movies About Parenting
    27
    15

    Poltergeist

    Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams

    Released1982

    Directed byTobe Hooper

    Poltergeist is a 1982 American supernatural thriller film, directed by Tobe Hooper and... more on Wikipediaamazon_watch buy button
  • 12
    The Shining is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Horror Movies About Parenting
    21
    11

    The Shining

    Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall

    Released1980

    Directed byStanley Kubrick

    The Shining is a 1980 British-American psychological horror film produced and directed by... more on Wikipediaamazon_watch buy button
  • 13
    Fear is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Horror Movies About Parenting
    15
    5

    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... more on Wikipediaamazon_watch buy button
  • 14
    A Haunting in Connecticut is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Horror Movies About Parenting
    21
    14

    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... more on Wikipediaamazon_watch buy button
  • 15
    A Quiet Place is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Horror Movies About Parenting
    17
    10

    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... more on Wikipediaamazon_watch buy button
  • 16
    Insidious is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Horror Movies About Parenting
    22
    18

    Insidious

    Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey

    Released2010

    Directed byJames Wan

    Insidious is a 2011 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan, written by Leigh... more on Wikipediaamazon_watch buy button
  • 17
    The Others is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Horror Movies About Parenting
    12
    5

    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.... more on Wikipediaamazon_watch buy button
  • 18
    Hide and Seek is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Horror Movies About Parenting
    14
    8

    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... more on Wikipediaamazon_watch buy button
  • 19
    Orphan is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Horror Movies About Parenting
    15
    11

    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... more on Wikipediaamazon_watch buy button
  • 20
    The Bad Seed is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Horror Movies About Parenting
    14
    12

    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... more on Wikipediaamazon_watch buy button
  • 21
    Ma is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Horror Movies About Parenting
    14
    12

    Ma

    Octavia Spencer, Luke Evans

    Released2019

    Directed byTate Taylor

    Ma is a 2019 American psychological horror film directed by Tate Taylor. A lonely woman... more on Wikipediaamazon_watch buy button
  • 22
    Alice, Sweet Alice is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Horror Movies About Parenting
    12
    11

    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... more on Wikipediaamazon_watch buy button
  • 23
    Cujo is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Horror Movies About Parenting
    5
    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... more on Wikipediaamazon_watch buy button
  • 24
    Mom and Dad is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Horror Movies About Parenting
    5
    4

    Mom and Dad

    Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair

    Released2018

    Directed byBrian Taylor

    Mom and Dad is a 2017 American horror comedy film directed by Brian Taylor. A teenage girl and... more on Wikipediaamazon_watch buy button
  • 25
    Bird Box is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Horror Movies About Parenting
    5
    4

    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... more on Wikipediaamazon_watch buy button
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