Horror Film Countdown Day 13 – Movies Anxious Parents Should Avoid

Welcome to our countdown to the most anxiety-inducing horror films for parents!  Today is day thirteen!

Each day, we are covering the films I both love and hate because they’re awesome and they give me panic attacks now that I’m a mom.


The next few days will dive into the world of ghost stories with one important thing in common: They are each based on truth.  Today’s review is one of the most notorious haunted houses in this nation.  The legend of this house has a book, two movies, even a statue put out by the Bradford Exchange!

Disclaimer: Trigger warnings are a given when you talk about horror, but I’m going to say it anyway.  Many subjects covered by horror films are disturbing to parents in ways we can’t possibly understand and each is unique to the parent and his/her experiences. Tread carefully and know your limits.  If this begins to be too much, there’s no shame in closing the window.  Also, this post contains some spoilers throughout. 

19. The Amityville Horror


So, if I am completely honest, as horror films go, Amityville Horror is not that great a film. In fact, it was one that received terrible reviews and was not well received when it came out, yet, as many films like this do… it became a staple in the stack of must-see horror films and is know thought of as one of the best.  It’s rich and haunting music was nominated for an Academy Award that year and the award-winning acting by Margot Kidder (the mom), coupled with a daughter with a dead best friend, screaming nuns, projectile vomiting priests and a dad that goes insane makes for a spectacular and chilling tale.. especially for a parent.

This was one of the first movies to explore the reality that kids talk to literally no one as though there is someone there.  In this movie, it just happens to actually BE someone… the ghost of a little girl who was shot in the head by her possessed older brother several years before.  While the provincial special effects don’t make for a great scare while you are watching the film, the eerie idea of it and the fact that it was based on a true story, certainly lingers.

This was a film I used to LOVE watching.  I have the original on DVD and I even saw the remake in the theater, then bought that one, too.  There’s just something deliciously terrifying about it.  Maybe it is because the story is based on a case worked on by Ed and Loraine Warren.  As the paranormal power couple from the 1970’s, their presence and association with this case made it even more legitimate, even with the claims it wasn’t and the Lutz family just wanted to get out from under their debt.  Maybe it’s because everyone wishes they could find a beautiful, historic home in a gorgeous neighborhood for a reasonable price.  Maybe it’s because I know I’d do it.  It would be a dream come true and I can’t imagine I’d even give it a second thought if the opportunity came up just to be able to live in such a home.  I mean, heck – when THIS house went on the market a few years back, I was dying I wanted it so bad!  They say at this point, the only thing haunting it is ghost enthusiasts and horror fan nuts which, to me is actually even a little scarier, but that’s an entry for another day…

The Real Amityville House where they say, “nothing is wrong with it, except the people outside”

As a parent, there are a few things that get to me with this one now.  As I said before, kids talk to nothing. They interact with the open air as though it’s a person.  They have friends no one can see, they have electronic toys that go off on their own, they have motion sensor music boxes and night lights that go off when no one is around. ….or is there?

It’s a thought that will cross your mind.  It won’t matter if you live in an old house or if you built it yourself, things like this will make your skin crawl and you’ll wonder… did that rocking chair move because of the wind?  Did that toy start making music in an empty room because it needs the batteries changed?  When your child is staring at the wall and laughing at absolutely nothing, does she see something you cannot?  Is that chill in the air because you left a window open?

That brings up the other factor of this film; there is an issue taking place in this film that is so real it’s possibly the most frightening factor of the entire story – George, the husband who married Kathy who was already a mother of three, begins to change.  He starts out a kind, compassionate and loving husband and stepfather who has earned the children’s trust.  Soon after they move in however, he turns into an abusive and terrifying, axe-wielding monster.  Just because his transformation happens because of demons, doesn’t make the horror of child abuse any easier to deal with.  Watching this as a parent left me sick to my stomach and the remake is even worse, as it further explores the depth of his madness and what he put the kids through during those weeks living in the house.  If your spouse suddenly changes from the person you thought they were into something else entirely, you may begin to wonder.  Is your spouse’s bizarre bad mood really just because she/he’s a little more stressed than normal about money or a new move or a new job?  

Or is it something else?

Just shake it all off and remind yourself it’s only in your mind and it’s all just random coincidence… just like Kathy did.  It’ll probably be fine.